Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Deficit Dance Begins

As Barack Obama beats the default drums louder, the White House and Congress are finally taking steps toward moving in concert instead of sitting on the sidelines vocalizing and tweeting at each other.

Now the usual reliable sources whisper that the President “wants to move well beyond the $2 trillion in savings sought in earlier negotiations and seek perhaps twice as much over the next decade.”

In the light of two and a half years of dysfunctional hoofing, can Obama and Boehner suddenly turn into Astaire and Rogers without tripping all over the feet of their party members?

As they prepare for serious steps, there is nervousness among Democrats that the President may go too far on Social Security while Republicans are worrying that their Speaker could stop moving to the right on tax increases.

Obama, the Washington Post reports, “is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security...

“The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.”

GOP stalwarts, while insisting they will remain firm on the Bush tax cuts, concede that “Boehner may be amenable to a solution that simplifies and lowers individual and corporate tax rates, while ending preferences, loopholes, and expenditures—including...subsidies for big oil companies--and perhaps other reforms to be named later.” In short, raising taxes while denying that you are.

As clumsy as these moves may seem, they are an advance over sitting on the sidelines with arms folded. Start the music, but don’t expect the choreography to be classic.

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