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House Republicans Pre-Cave on Debt Ceiling   May 5th, 2011
I'm about ready to conclude we're toast       

 
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Somehow, House Republicans apparently learned from the last budget impasse that the best approach to negotiating is to pre-cave before negotiations even get serious.

Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a contentious plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks with the White House by focusing on areas where both parties can agree, such as cutting farm subsidies.

On the eve of debt-reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said Republicans remain convinced that reining in federal retirement programs is the key to stabilizing the nation's finances over the long term. But he said Republicans recognize they may need to look elsewhere to achieve consensus after President Obama 'excoriated us' for a proposal to privatize Medicare.

That search could start, Cantor said, with a list of GOP proposals that would save $715 billion over the next decade by ending payments to wealthy farmers, limiting lawsuits against doctors, and expanding government auctions of broadcast spectrum to telecommunications companies, among other items.


This has all the hallmarks of fiscal disaster.

We're not going to avoid a debt crisis by talking about farm subsidies, lawsuits against doctors, and auctions of broadcast spectrum. These are all fine discussions to have, but they're not going to solve the problem. Congress must address entitlements. Otherwise, it's just an exercise in futility.

It is also not at all encouraging that the Republican tactic is to "pre-cave" by taking entitlements off the table before negotiations even begin. And the reason for the pre-cave is because, last time, Obama "excoriated" Republicans? In other words, he bullied Republicans and Republicans caved.

This guarantees two things: 1. That Obama will continue to excoriate Republicans while they cower in the corner. 2. That the president and Democrats will never get serious about our unsustainable deficit.

It's clear that the House Republican leadership is not going to accomplish anything serious. We must place our hope on more principled House freshman, and senators such as Rand Paul and Jim DeMint.

I wrote in January that I thought we'd have a good idea of our country's fiscal future by late spring. We're now in the middle of spring and things don't look good.


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