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Over a lifetime of watching the political dances and games, there are a few things that can always be counted upon. The deficit hawks invariably claim that they are really, really, really only interested in “cutting out the fat honest.” Except that public sector budgets have been slashed so many times over these last few years, the politicians are not only slicing meat and bone, they are carving up the gourmet cuts, all in the name of some nebulous “greater good” and “sacrifices must be made by the courageous.” From Friday’s (June 17) NY Times:
Lawmakers and aides say the negotiators quickly gobbled up low-hanging fruit like trimming agriculture subsidies and selling more of the telecommunications spectrum to generate revenue. There is a general consensus that federal workers are going to have to contribute more to their pensions, though the details are still to be determined. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will collect higher fees from stable companies, and some idle federal property could be up for sale.
To get there, negotiators are going to have to make some excruciating choices about federal health care and safety-net programs, as well as the tax structure. At the same time, they need to reach a deal that not only can be sold to a bipartisan majority in the House and Senate, but also is credible enough to assure investors worldwide that Washington is getting serious about taking care of its financial health.
Republicans want to see Democrats embrace more changes in Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health programs for older Americans and the poor.