Weary budget negotiators near deal to avert standoff

The Seattle Times

Weary budget negotiators near deal to avert standoff

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are nearing a budget deal that amounts to little more than a cease-fire.

By Lori Montgomery The Washington Post

  Sen. Patty Murray

Sen. Patty Murray

WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011, when the battle over a soaring national debt first paralyzed Washington.

The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators’ primary target.

After more than two years of constant crisis, the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease-fire. Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid another economy-damaging standoff. Continue reading “Weary budget negotiators near deal to avert standoff”

Congress Faces a Stark Choice: Sequester or Shutdown

Congress Faces a Stark Choice: Sequester or Shutdown

 House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray Jacquelyn Martin/AP File Photo

Lawmakers in both parties could face a dangerous political dilemma after they return to Washington: Either endorse a second round of damaging sequester cuts or prepare for another government shutdown.

The situation is that stark, and it’s coming on fast.

Budget negotiators led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray are racing to beat a Dec. 13 deadline to draft a deal that would keep the government open beyond Jan. 15.

They could get it done. Even House Speaker John Boehner says he’s hopeful. But other lawmakers and aides say the odds are not good, and that’s why House Republicans are now prepared to pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government at the $966 billion level that’s dictated by the Budget Control Act, ushering in round two of the hated sequester cuts. Continue reading “Congress Faces a Stark Choice: Sequester or Shutdown”

House GOP Prepares Fallback Plan to Avoid January Shutdown

House GOP Prepares Fallback Plan to Avoid January Shutdown

As the budget conference committee continues to work toward an agreement that would set spending levels for the remainder of this fiscal year and fiscal 2015, House Republicans are contemplating a fallback plan: a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through April 15 and buy budget negotiators more time to strike a long-term deal.

According to multiple lawmakers familiar with the situation, budget negotiators in both parties are hopeful that the foundation for a long-term deal could be laid in December. But the details almost certainly won’t be solidified before Dec. 13, the deadline for the conference committee to report an agreement—and the day lawmakers leave town for the holiday recess.

At the same time, the current government-funding bill expires Jan. 15, and House members don’t return to Washington until Jan. 7.

Continue reading “House GOP Prepares Fallback Plan to Avoid January Shutdown”

How Washington is killing the economy

How Washington is killing the economy

By: Ben White
October 25, 2013 05:01 AM EDT

The U.S. Capitol is shown. | AP PhotoThe latest round of fiscal drama has sputtered to a temporary close, but the routine crises have one clear victim: the U.S. economy, which is once again losing altitude. And for the third year in a row, Washington gets much of the blame.

There’s not much hope for a quick turnaround.

The most recent slowdown — highlighted by poor job growth, softening corporate earnings and decimated confidence — comes just as Republicans and Democrats prepare to square off in a fresh fight over the federal budget with another potential shutdown looming in January and a renewed debt ceiling crisis possible in February.

Washington’s drag on the economy now springs from a multiplying array of sources, including the constant threat of devastating fiscal crisis, the blunt nature of the sequester spending cuts, the troubled roll-out of Obamacare and the now deeply strained relations with key economic allies over clandestine surveillance allegations.

(PHOTOS: House hearing on Obamacare website) Continue reading “How Washington is killing the economy”

Reid rules out grand bargain

By Erik Wasson – 10/24/13 04:24 PM ET

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday he regrets being “too lenient” in previous budget talks with Republicans.

Reid said he and President Obama were too willing to compromise in talks that took place in 2011 and 2012, and that he intends to drive a harder bargain going forward.

“If you give a bully a dollar today, they ask for a dollar and a half tomorrow,” he said in a radio interview with Nevada’s KNPR. “It has taken a while for all my caucus to come to that understanding. And quite frankly, the president, wonderful man that he is, he doesn’t like confrontation and he likes to work things out with people.

”“I was too lenient. Don’t blame it all on him,” Reid added. He also ruled out the possibility that a budget conference committee convening next week will reach a “grand bargain” that would cut entitlements, raise taxes and reduce spending.  Continue reading “Reid rules out grand bargain”