The ongoing debt ceiling battle will apparently run right up to the wire. We have less than a week before economaggedon, and the partisan posturing is more apparent then ever. Finally there is movement beyond talking, but the most recent movement has more in common with bowel than budgetary reality.
Last night, the Republicans passed a bill in the House
that would raise the debt ceiling, but only if accompanied by $6T in cuts in Federal spending, and the floating of a Constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. The vote - largely along party lines - was essentially symbolic, as the bill stands no chance in the Senate, and has been promised a veto by President Obama:
Defying a veto threat, the Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened Aug. 2 government default.
The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans, and it stood in contrast to calls at the White House and in the Senate for a late stab at bipartisanship to solve the nation's looming debt crisis.
However, there IS a bi-partisan compromise proposal being considered as well, that is NOT symbolic. Put forth by the so-called "Gang of Six", the proposal has been praised by President Obama
"The good news is that today, a group of senators, the gang of six, Democrats and Republicans... put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I've urged," Obama told reporters at the White House.
He said that under that new approach "we've got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending, both in domestic spending and defense, we've got to be serious about tackling health care spending, and entitlements in a serious way, and we've got to have some additional revenue.
"So that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something."
Obviously, the Tea Party wing of the Republican party is not going to like "additional revenue", but they may be outnumbered by the realists in both parties. Naturally, progressive alarmists will read "tackling health care spending, and entitlements in a serious way", and start blathering about "cuts to Social Security and Medicare" without pausing to consider that the programs can be made more efficient without cutting benefits.
The alternative is to consider Minnesota. They've been without a government for 3 weeks. They finally approved a budget yesterday
, and - mirroring what will ultimately have to happen at the federal level - no one was happy:
"While the budget agreement was not the most ideal to anyone, it was time to compromise, end the shutdown and put Minnesota back to work," Republican Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel said afterward in a statement.
The governor and legislative leaders had announced a tentative deal on Thursday, then worked out the details of what was estimated by nonpartisan staff at about $34.3 billion of spending for the fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
All three have said they were unhappy with the plan but believed they must support the compromise. It stripped out tax increases Dayton had sought as well as some social policy changes Republicans wanted. It also had higher spending levels than Republicans were seeking.
Yes - compromise. That is what governing is all about - the art of the deal. Absolutism has no place in higher office.