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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

 
Wake me up when September comes

by digby

There's only one kind of spending that is sacred:

House Democratic leaders have decided against uniting their party's rank and file in opposition to a Republican spending bill that would fund the government.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the GOP's continuing resolution (CR) both threatens the economy and violates the spending levels agreed to under the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). But in an acknowledgment that the Democrats are all but powerless to block the CR on the House floor, Hoyer said leaders would not pressure their troops to oppose it.
[...]
"We're not whipping at this point in time," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. "We don't want to shut down the government."

Hoyer's comments came just an hour after Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the proposal will be "devastating" to vulnerable Americans and she's "recommending" that Democrats oppose it.

Hoyer acknowledged Lowey's opposition campaign, but clarified that party leaders won't be twisting arms.

So, there's that. No government shutdown. But federal worker furloughs and other cuts. But lest you think that the terrorist boogeyment will be coming to kill you in your beds:

Under current law, the government's spending authority expires on March 27. The Republicans' CR, unveiled Monday, would extend that authority through Sept. 30. The $984 billion package takes steps to cushion the effects of the sequester on the Pentagon and veterans programs, but the $85 billion cuts would hit almost all other agencies, stirring an outcry from Democrats that federal programs aimed at helping low-income people will be harmed.

Naturally they will be able to find ways to cushion the blow on defense. There are some cuts that neither party will make. Veteran's programs are vital, of course --- but then so are many of the programs they're cutting. Unfortunately they don't have the same bipartisan constituency that the military has.

It does go to show how ridiculous the sequester "devil's bargain" really was. The idea was that Democrats would balk at cutting domestic programs and Republicans would balk at cutting defense. Turns out that the only programs both parties are balking at is defense. Surprise.

But all is not lost. Greg Sargent reports that we're already looking to the next debt ceiling showdown. Seriously.

The question remains, though, whether conservatives will pressure the House GOP leadership to provoke another standoff around the debt ceiling and to demand more spending cuts — such as to entitlements, which are mostly exempt from the sequester — in exchange for any hike. And here, you have to hope that John Boehner will be able to tamp down any desire for further confrontation by pointing out that Republicans are already getting deep spending cuts with the sequester. But this is hardly assured.

And to add to the complexity, all this could unfold even as Democrats are hoping to exploit the pain the sequester will cause to force Republicans back to the table to replace the sequester with some kind of “grand bargain” that trades entitlement cuts for new revenues.

What could go wrong?


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