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BVT News Roundup 15 January 2014.

BVT News Roundup 13 January 2014.


Evening News Wrap 17 December 2013.

Afternoon News Read 11 December 2013.

(File photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters via Newsweek)

House and Senate budget negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget deal that would raise military and domestic spending over the next two years, shifting the pain of across-the-board cuts to other programs over the coming decade and raising fees on airline tickets to pay for airport security.

The deal, while modest in scope, amounts to a ceasefire in the budget wars that have debilitated Washington since 2011 and gives lawmakers breathing room to try to address the real drivers of the national debt – burgeoning health care and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security – and to reshape the tax code. But it quickly drew fire from conservatives who saw it as a retreat from earlier spending cuts and a betrayal by senior Republicans.

“We have broken through the partisanship and gridlock and reached a bipartisan budget compromise that will avert a government shutdown in January,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the chairwoman of the Budget Committee and the chief Democratic negotiator.

The agreement eliminates about $65 billion in across-the-board domestic and defense cuts while adding an additional $25 billion in deficit reduction by extending a 2 percent cut to Medicare through 2022 and 2023, two years beyond the cuts set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

For Democrats and their negotiator, Ms. Murray, the deal marks a turning point in the spending wars that have dominated the Capitol since Republicans swept to control of the House in 2011.

For Republicans and their negotiator, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman, the deal should mean the political focus can remain on President Obama’s health care law and not another round of budget brinkmanship next month, as the government moves to another shutdown.

Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, a member of House Republican leadership, said the deal goes back to the original idea of the Budget Control Act, which was to force deficit reduction on entitlement and “mandatory” programs, with automatic cuts to defense and domestic discretionary programs only as a last resort.

“Two years ago, we wanted to get mandatory spending reductions,” he said. “If we didn’t get that, then we wanted to get some supercommittee to form a plan to do it. That didn’t happen. Third best was sequester. If we can get back to first best to resolve this, that’s a better option.”

But the accord is taking fire from conservatives on and off Capitol Hill, who are excoriating Mr. Ryan for rolling back immediate spending cuts in exchange for promised savings that may never materialize.

“If it cancels earlier spending reductions without replacing them with the beginning of substantial changes to the true drivers of our debt, which are these unsustainable programs, then I think we’re in the same place we were at the beginning of this debate,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and a top prospect for a presidential run, told conservative talk show host Sean Hannity Tuesday. “We’ve got to deal with this issue at some point.”

Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, which is influential with House Republicans, came out against the deal even before it was announced, as did Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by the conservative Koch brothers, and Koch Industries, the brothers’ energy and paper conglomerate.

“We will hold members accountable, Republican and Democrat, if they go forward and vote to raise spending above sequester levels,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, also expressed reluctance to reverse automatic, across-the-board spending cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act if a broader, multi-trillion-dollar deficit reduction deal could not be reached.

“I remain convinced the Budget Control Act has done what it was supposed to do. We’ve reduced government spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War,” he said. “It has been a success, and I hope we don’t revisit it.”

The New York Times, "Congressional Negotiators Reach Budget Deal."

I love that conservative Tea Party zealot motherfuckers will continue to register complaints about overspending while conveniently overlooking the fact that Medicare gets cut while the defense budget goes from $967 billion to just over a trillion fucking dollars.

Morning News Read 9 December 2013.

Morning News Read 19 September 2013.

Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, sounds upset. And you can see why: President Obama, to the great relief of progressives, has called his bluff.

Last week, Mr. Ryan unveiled his budget proposal, and the initial reaction of much of the punditocracy was best summed up (sarcastically) by the blogger John Cole: “The plan is bold! It is serious! It took courage! It re-frames the debate! The ball is in Obama’s court! Very wonky! It is a game-changer! Did I mention it is serious?”

Then people who actually understand budget numbers went to work, and it became clear that the proposal wasn’t serious at all. In fact, it was a sick joke. The only real things in it were savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization. All the alleged cost savings were pure fantasy.

On Wednesday, as I said, the president called Mr. Ryan’s bluff: after offering a spirited (and reassuring) defense of social insurance, he declared, “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.” Actually, the Ryan plan calls for $2.9 trillion in tax cuts, but who’s counting?

And then Mr. Obama laid out a budget plan that really is serious.

PAUL KRUGMAN, “Who’s Serious Now?”, in the New York Times.

Oh, snap.

The House on Thursday passed compromise legislation to finance the federal government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The vote brought one budget clash to a close even as the Democrats and Republicans prepared for another.

The vote was 260-167, with 59 Republicans breaking ranks with their party leadership to vote against the deal, which calls for $38 billion in spending cuts this year. The Republican defections, a result of opposition from conservatives who said the bill did not do enough to rein in spending, forced the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, to turn to Democrats to pass the bill and keep the government from shutting down.

Afterward, the bill moved to the Senate, where it was expected to pass quickly and be sent to President Obama’s desk.

New York Times, "House Passes Compromise Budget Bill."

(UPDATE: So has the Senate.)

Um?  I find the whole “Boehner forced to turn to Democrats to pass the bill” thing funny.  Good job, Tea Party!!!