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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

 
Welfare Reform for the whole country

by digby


What could go wrong?

...Obama and House Republican leaders share this much in the coming budget wars: Both are racing to catch up with the train. And just as the president must contend with panicky Democrats, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) faces tea party freshmen wanting to more than double the $32 billion in reductions now proposed by the GOP for the last seven months of this fiscal year...

As now drafted, the House bill promises pro-defense lawmakers in both parties stable funding for the military — not unlike what Democrats proposed in December as part of their own omnibus measure. And while the domestic spending cuts are deep and controversial, Senate Democrats voted by a 2-1 margin just last week in favor of an amendment cutting $44 billion from unobligated funds to pay for a small-business-backed amendment to the health care law...

Running close to two hours and hosted by [Obama lieutenant]Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) in his third floor Capitol offices, the meeting had an equal mix of Democrats—Durbin, Conrad, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner—and Republicans: Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Durbin, Conrad, Coburn and Crapo are all veterans of the commission while Warner and Chambliss—an old friend of Boehner’s—have joined forces in an effort to advance the same agenda.

The goal is to revive — in either legislative form or the spring budget resolution — major elements of the commission’s plan to narrow future deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the next 10 years. Appropriations cuts would be part of the strategy but so would entitlement and tax reform. And if the senators can show enough political strength, the hope is that this would give Boehner and Obama enough cover to join them.

“If we keep addressing micro parts of the issue we’ll never do anything,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) told POLITICO. “We can’t touch Social Security, or we can’t touch the mortgage-interest deduction. What you’ve got to do is address it in the macro sense. Kind of a shared sacrifice approach and also over time.”

Make that "shared sacrifice for everyone but rich people who will not feel any of this personally." Let's try to be accurate.

But I think the Obama administration may have found a comparison that will make the Villagers' eyes roll back in their head as they moan with ecstasy:

The political stakes in any such bargain are huge. And for Obama it could be the equivalent of Bill Clinton’s famous welfare reform deal — only on steroids. Just as that compromise angered the left but helped Clinton win reelection in 1996, a deficit deal could do the same for Obama.


Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. Calling Social Security cuts "welfare reform" is just brilliant. Gloria Borger will have to be taken to the hospital when she hears it. What could be better than "Welfare Reform Part II: The Greedy Geezers"? And it looks like Democrats have joined the cast:

At the same time, Democrats admit their own frustration that the president has not been more forthcoming in addressing the debt issue.

For example, “The Easy Cuts Are Behind Us” was the headline for a weekend op-ed by White House Budget Director Jack Lew promising that Obama’s 2012 budget will “look beyond the obvious” in cutting spending. But Lew is already months behind his fellow Democrats on one of his prime examples — cuts from the Great Lakes restoration initiative.

Lew listed other more significant new cuts –totaling $650 million--from community development and community service block grants. But none of these comes close to the desperate tone of last week’s 81-17 Senate vote on the small-business amendment, in which panic-driven Democrats virtually turned over the keys to the White House to cut whatever it wanted from unobligated appropriations, as long as they met the $44 billion target.


The article goes on to discuss how Republicans are facing some of the same issues. But let's face it. It's always going to be easier for the GOP to sign on to spending cuts. If the Democrats lead the way, I suspect they'll be able to set aside their differences. Where they fall out is on tax hikes, but from what I can tell that's not on the table. So it looks like Welfare Reform for the old and sick is on.

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