Fourteen days of balance. That’s all the proposed continuing-resolution cuts will produce — two weeks.

Over the next three weeks, the Senate is going to threaten to shut down the government to avoid balancing the budget for 14 days in fiscal 2011.

The $59 billion in real spending cuts that House Republicans are proposing is dwarfed by the CBO-estimated $1.5 trillion budget deficit for FY 2011, but it is a good start.

With another bite of the apple available during the debt-ceiling debate, if the Republicans stick to their guns, it is possible that we just might be able to move the budget deficit down to $1.4 trillion, and put us on a glide path to reaching a mere $1.25 trillion deficit next year.

That is how crazy the out-of-control Obama/Reid/Pelosi-axis spending schemes were. Even with what some will consider devastating cuts to the discretionary budget, we are still likely to fall a full $250 billion short of breaking below the once-unthinkable $1 trillion annual deficit level.

As appropriators look to put together the FY 2012 budget, they need to set some priorities. While the CR effectively takes an across-the-board approach to cuts, the FY 2012 budget provides the opportunity for Congress to decide what programs are needed and effective, thus deserving more funding, and those that just need to go away (are you listening, Corporation for Public Broadcasting?).

While this initial stage of cutting in the CR is necessary to change the baselines back to sustainable levels, the regular appropriations process will be the important part.

Hopefully, authorizing committees and appropriators will work together to invest in those programs that meet the needs of America, and defund those that are merely wants.

One place that they should look is ratcheting back the length of time unemployment benefits are available. With the Obama administration claiming that the unemployment rate has dropped a miraculous .8 percent in the past two months, taxpayers can save billions simply by changing the length of time when people are eligible for unemployment.

Of course, since the .8 percent is a result of people giving up on getting a job, combined with the administration changing the way it conducts the survey, the unemployment rate is hardly an accurate indicator of the real economic situation, but the fact is that the administration claims 500,000 jobs were created last month. With that level of “job growth robustness,” it seems reasonable to roll back the unemployment check availability to the 90-week level, significantly reducing the deficit spending.

Somehow I don’t think that former Speaker Pelosi will get on board with this fiscally sound move, as not even the most ardent Obama supporter actually believes the reports out of the Labor Department.

So, while the current fight will be over whether we should have 14 days of balanced budget in FY 2011, the next one will be over what programs and agencies our federal government can afford and whether it should be doing them at all.

It will be a great debate on the proper role of the federal government, which will determine the survival of our nation as the world’s foremost economic superpower. Let’s hope the House Republicans stay strong in the face of the coming special-interest onslaught.

Rick Manning is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government. Follow him on twitter @rmanning957.