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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

WASHINGTON — There are, believe it or not, grounds for hoping that the sequester, stupid as it is, might open the way to ending our nation’s budget stalemate.

Hope is in short supply right now, but the case for seeing a way out of the current mess rests on knowable facts and plausible assumptions.

It starts with the significant number of Republicans in the Senate — possibly as many 20 — who think what’s going on is foolish and counterproductive. The White House is betting that enough GOP senators are prepared to make a deal along lines that President Obama has already put forward.

Obama’s lieutenants argue that while Republicans are aware that the president is seeking new revenue through tax reform, many did not fully grasp the extent to which he has offered significant long-term spending cuts. These include reductions in Medicare and a willingness (to the consternation of many Democrats) to alter the index that determines Social Security increases. Obama has proposed $930 billion in cuts to get $580 billion in revenues.

Senior administration officials note that Obama cannot stray too far from his existing offer, which was already a compromise, without losing the Democratic votes a deal would need. But his framework, they believe, could create a basis for negotiation with Republican senators such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, who dislike the deep automatic cuts in defense spending, and others, such as Sens. Susan Collins and Bob Corker, who dislike government-by-showdown.

Graham was especially bullish, declaring that Obama’s outreach to Republicans — the president invited about a dozen GOP senators to dinner on Wednesday night — was “the most encouraging engagement on a big issue I’ve seen since the early years of his presidency.”

If the Senate actually passed a bipartisan solution, it would still have to clear the House, requiring Speaker John Boehner to allow yet another bill get through with a large number of Democratic votes. But the sequester almost certainly marked the high point of solidarity among House Republicans. Letting it take hold was an easy concession for Boehner to make to more militant conservatives, and kept them from pushing toward government shutdowns or a politically and economically dangerous confrontation over the debt ceiling.

Now comes the hard part for Boehner. Already, there is pushback from more moderate conservatives against the depth of the budget cuts that Rep. Paul Ryan will have to propose in in order to balance the budget in 10 years. At least some House Republicans may come to see a bipartisan Senate-passed deal as more attractive than the alternatives.

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24 responses to “Budget Wars: A Case For Hope”

  1. President Obama should not succumb to GOP pressure. He is likely to share blame for the sequester, which he agreed to sign to avert defaulting on our debt obligations in 2011. Concessions that include spending reductions that affect Social Security and MEDICARE to satisfy Republican demands, will impair our ability to get control of the House in 2014 and will allow Republican presidential candidates to become a viable alternative in 2016. In his efforts to end the partisanship that has paralyzed progress during the past four years, he is likely to fall in a trap and take the Democratic party down with him. No wonder Republican Senators love his latest overtures to find middle ground and move on.
    Social programs, the department of education and organized labor are hanging like a ripe fruit ready to be picked by conservatize zealots, and they will not hesitate to destroy them if they can.

  2. TheSkalawag929 says:

    We Democrats and Liberals are our own worst enemy. In our quest for bipartisanship we cave in to the republicans whom we know have NO intention of yielding on anything.

    If we are going to get the blame for the deed then we might as well do the deed. If the republicans are claiming we are beating them up and the public is to blaming us for beating them up well by golly we should be beating them up.

    Besides like any bullies they won’t stop until you stand up for yourself.

  3. clarenceswinney says:

    The Sequester will cost 473,000 jobs. Just what we need..Jobs

  4. docb says:

    Only one of the repubs that the President treated to dinner is up for re-election..Lindsey…I am amused at the fact that this showed that the babies just wanted attention but were too cowardly to reach out themselves and some did not show up in the past when invited! Additionally, there is no cache in not being invited to the White House..No signing into the Official register and no photo ops that they can point to and order copies of!

  5. roguerunners says:

    THEY are exhausted???
    I was exhausted in 2000.
    Now I am OVER IT!
    Please, stop fighting amongst yourselves and just do the job you were elected to do!
    Is that too much to ask?

  6. bcarreiro says:

    our congress are to blame and they are passive aggressive assholes.

  7. elw says:

    I think most people are exhausted by the constant crisis mode the Republicans have created in Washington. I am so sick and tired of hearing about the longest ongoing crisis in history, I have cancelled my cable TV. It is the only way a news junkie like me can get away from it. I plan to renew it when the media and our politician start talking sense instead of fairytale BS. In the meantime it is internet entertainment for me, at least if I have to watch and listen to fantasies they will be the ones that I enjoy and pick.

    • charleo1 says:

      That is great! You cancelled your cable? You must have the self control of a monk!
      I afraid I’d be going into friends, and relative’s homes, for my fix. Then, a shell of my
      former self, I’d be caught looking in neighbor’s windows, and hauled off to jail!
      They would never believe I was just trying to watch Rachel Maddow!

  8. sigrid28 says:

    You come by your moniker honestly, I see.

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