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Budget Talks Open: Sequestration Likely to Go, Entitlement Reform Faces Uphill Climb

Ryan: "If this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we’re not going to get anywhere. The way to raise revenue is to grow the economy.”

by
Bill Straub

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October 31, 2013 - 4:51 pm
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WASHINGTON – Lawmakers opened negotiations over a long-term federal spending and tax plan this week by staking out positions that will make it difficult to reach the sort of compromise necessary to avoid another governmental shutdown.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, argued during the opening round of talks that the cost of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid needs to be reined in by a method other than increasing taxes.

“Taking more from hardworking families just isn’t the answer,” Ryan told members of the specially appointed conference committee charged with straightening out the nation’s budgetary issues. “I know my Republican colleagues feel the same way. So I want to say this from the get-go — if this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we’re not going to get anywhere. The way to raise revenue is to grow the economy.”

But Democrats expressed an immediate unwillingness to remove a tax increase from the table. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) countered that it would be unthinkable to reduce spending on the backs of the poor and elderly who need entitlement assistance.

Sanders cited polls that show a significant majority of Americans oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and “want the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes” to balance the federal budget.

“It is time to develop a federal budget that is moral and makes good economic sense,” Sanders said. “It is time to develop a budget that invests in our future by creating jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and expanding educational opportunities. It is time for those who have so much to help with deficit reduction.”

Less than 10 percent of the American people approve of the job that Congress is doing, Sanders said, meaning “it’s time that we started to listen to what the American people want us to do.”

Those diametrically opposed views showcase the difficulty the two sides will encounter in attempting to reach a resolution by Dec. 13 – the date set by Congress as part of the recent agreement that reopened the federal government. But Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the lead negotiator among Democrats, insisted she remains optimistic.

“I believe this bipartisan budget conference offers us the opportunity to rebuild some trust, find a path to compromise and work together to create jobs and boost our fragile economy,” Murray said. “I am hopeful we can at least show that bipartisanship is possible, that we can work together to solve some problems, and that we can break free from the gridlock and dysfunction that has dominated our nation’s capital for far too long.”

The least conferees should be able to accomplish, Murray said, is replacing sequestration – the across-the-board cuts imposed as a result of the unsuccessful 2011 budget negotiations – and offering a short-term spending package.

“This won’t be easy — the House and Senate budgets are very different even for just this year,” Murray said. “But if both sides are willing to move out of their partisan corners and offer up some compromises, I am confident it can be done.”

Murray and other Democrats on the panel hinted that they are willing to consider harsh spending cuts that replace sequestration, which they view as “inefficient and damaging.”

“I think there is a way that we cannot only protect savings but find ways to replace sequester,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). “I know some of my colleagues think it hasn’t been that bad, but I believe it’s almost like a cancer inside. I can tell you, in Virginia, we are a little bit like Ground Zero because of the federal workforce and military personnel that live here. What we are doing in terms of hurting military readiness, costing taxpayers money because we the Department of Defense cannot do long-term purchase contracts, is totally irresponsible.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Let's reduce the budget to the level it was when Clinton left office.

Good enough for Clinton, good enough for today's Democrats, right?

Seriously, we could halve the Federal budget, fire countless do-nothing employees and 99% of us would not only feel no ill effects, we would feel a benefit.

And to those who would be fired by the government? TFB... Join the rest of us in our Obamadepression.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
my best friend's aunt makes $77 hourly on the internet. She has been without work for eight months but last month her check was $15175 just working on the internet for a few hours. ....>>>>>>>> http://xurl.es/28ydl
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is all a charade! This is the eng-game strategy public employee unions use to avoid an employer seeking concessions. In collective bargaining the only way an Employer can make a unilateral change is after achieving a valid state of impasse. Once impasse is achieved, the union can strike and the employer can lock the unionized employees out, impose terms, and under some circumstances hire replacement workers. Unless the union really believes that it can win a strike, and few do, they try very hard to avoid reaching impasse. In the public sector they try to keep dancing away from impasse until the next election in which they try to buy a new management.

In the budget "negotiations," there really aren't any rules, which makes it a more uncertain process than collective bargaining but it is the same dynamic. The Republicans in the House know that the Democrats in the Senate will never agree to a formal budget with any cuts to current spending levels. The Democrats in the Senate know that the Republicans won't agree to any formal budget that doesn't include at least the appearance of actual budget cuts. The reality is that is a state of impasse and futher bargaining is futile, so we're at endgame.

The WH, as Alinskyites are prone to do, overplayed their hand with the sequester move because they thought they could force the Republicans to back down, but they didn't - yet. Now the Democrats want the sequestered funds restored. So, while maintaining the charade of budget negotiations right up to the brink, when expiration of the current CR is imminent, as in desperately close, the Senate will pass a CR that restores the sequestration cuts and, once again, the House will either have to give the cuts back or face a government shut down. There's some Constitutional questions about such a CR originating in the Senate but as someone famous once said, "what does it matter now?"
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) countered that it would be unthinkable to reduce spending on the backs of the poor and elderly who need entitlement assistance"

Couple of issues:

A devout Socialist is now speaking on behalf of the DNC?

Point of order is due...

Most people on welfare are not just fat, they are morbidly obese (try 80% on for size) and unemployable in virtually any capacity. That is even they had any skills, which they dont.

To sum it up, Mr. Sanders, we have run out of other peoples money. A long time ago. When you owe the chinese a trillion who just today released to the public today their nuclear attack plans to destroy the USA, tell us again just how great communism is?

Not in China mind you, but in the demcratic party here in the good old USA.


39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Democrats on the panel hinted that they are willing to consider harsh spending cuts that replace sequestration"

Oh, you seductive devils. You know we fall for that every time. It's so much better than dinner and a movie.

"more than 16 percent of Americans — including 20 percent of all children — still live in poverty. Nearly 50 million live on $23,000 per year or less."

In the US these figures do NOT include government assistance, unlike every other nation on Earth. So, this grinding poverty will never go away no matter how much we spend- and the more we spend the less the 'poor' need to earn so they get ever poorer ... perfect.

"the only way we can avoid gridlock and crisis — and the only way either side can get what they want — is through compromise and bipartisanship"

Which means the Democrat way or the highway- see every previous 'gridlock and crisis', real or imagined.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama won't give an inch. Will the Republicans finally grow a backbone? Don't bet on it.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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