U.S. talks to ease spending cuts, avert shutdown at critical stage: aides
By Richard Cowan and David Lawder | December 5, 2013
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. budget negotiators were down to the final, most difficult items in a two-year deal to avoid another federal shutdown next month and ease some across-the-board spending cuts set to hit military and domestic programs, congressional aides said on Thursday.
What a bizarre headline. But what harm did the government shutdown do, anyway? Despite all of the Democrat and media lies to the contrary, the economy did better during the shutdown. (Which is also true for the sequester.)
The small-scale agreement being negotiated by Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, and Republican Representative Paul Ryan would lead to less than $100 billion in new savings, aides familiar with the talks said.
$100 billion is how much the sequester will cut the increase in government spending next year. But notice that we are never told how much less the savings will be in this deal.
The savings would replace some of the cuts that went into effect automatically as part of the budget "sequestration" earlier this year, and would provide a small amount of additional deficit reduction, they said.
And by "small," they mean "smaller." But, again, we are not told how much smaller.
The deal being negotiated would set spending on discretionary programs ranging from the military to national parks for fiscal 2014 and 2015 at around $1 trillion each year. Without action, such spending would be automatically cut to $967 billion in 2014, the lowest level in a decade…
Once again, we’re not told what the new figure will be.
"I’m hopeful that next week we can show the people of this country that we can produce something that is smarter than the way we’re going about things now," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican…
Why change anything? Because the sequester is hurting the economy? The economy is supposedly doing better since the sequester. Because the sequester is causing unemployment? The jobless rate is down since the sequester. Because the public hates the sequester? They have forgotten all about the sequester, if they ever noticed it.
Maybe the Republicans just want to please the Democrats and the news media, to get them to stop calling them names.
But any deal’s fate in Congress could hinge in part on whether it includes an agreement to extend long-term federal unemployment benefits due to expire later this month for some 1.3 million Americans…
And we can’t have that!
Other difficult issues remain including a plan to require federal workers to contribute more to their pensions, which are separate from the Social Security retirement benefits system…
And we certainly can’t allow that!