October 6, 2013

TAKE THE CUTS AND SAVE THE SEQUESTER:

The Deal That's There for the Taking (GERALD F. SEIB, 10/05/13, WSJ)

Republicans would have to acknowledge that the Obamacare gambit didn't work; they don't have the votes to either defund the new health-care program or to delay its requirement that individuals get health insurance.

Instead, the GOP would pivot to the issue where they have had success-and are in a position to continue having it-which is holding down government spending.

Many Republicans think this is the issue where their efforts should have been focused in the first place. Annually appropriated spending has declined for two straight years. And though this has been lost in the din, Democrats have agreed to accept current spending levels for the rest of this year, even though they don't like them.

That's a victory Republicans can rightfully claim.

For their part, Democrats would declare success on their primary goal, which was to defend the president's health-care law against the most sustained attack Republicans can muster. The law is in effect and will remain so. This is a significant victory for Democrats to claim.

At that point, the decks would be cleared for a turn to a discussion of a potentially significant budget deal, the outlines of which can be seen through the fog.

Here, the common ground lies in the parties' shared distaste for the crude ceiling on spending put in place by the sequester, the automatic limits passed into law two years ago.

Democrats have swallowed the $ 988 billion limit on annually appropriated spending required by the sequester for the rest of this calendar year, but they hate the idea of ​​pushing that figure down to $ 967 billion next year, as required under current law. Republicans like the lower spending limit but hate the idea that much of the new reductions would come out of defense.

We need both sides to lose that last fight.
Posted by at October 6, 2013 7:59 AM
  

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