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Wimping Out on Spending Cuts
President Obama was shocked two years ago when Republicans called his bluff and accepted sequestration. Those across-the-board spending cuts had been proposed by the White House with a wink and a nod in the spirit of this famous magazine cover.
The White House was in effect daring Republicans, "Okay tough guys, you say you'll only raise the debt ceiling if we cut spending? Fine! But half those cuts ... have to come from defense!"
President Obama knew GOP hawks would never agree to cut $42.5 billion a year (half of the $85 billion sequester total) from their revered military.
Except they did!
GOP Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray have now cut a two-year deal, immediately endorsed by both President Obama and establishment Republicans, that "relieves" $63 billion in automatic cuts, including $45 billion next year alone.
Ryan defends the deal by saying Democrats are in turn accepting at least $2.3 billion annually in "permanent" entitlement cuts.
Conservative talk show host Mark Levin told Ryan during an interview that those cuts are Mickey Mouse and cannot be called permanent because, after all, the sequester deal was supposed to be permanent.
Ryan did not disagree but instead noted that elections have consequences and this was the best Republicans can do unless and until they win the Senate in 2014 and the White House two years after that.
Ryan added that Republicans agreed to soften sequestration because members of their caucus no longer want to see the Pentagon shoulder an unfair -- and they believe foolish and even unpatriotic -- 50% of spending cuts.
This, of course, is good news for Wright Patterson AFB and other bases and military contractors across the country.
But budget hawks say the new deal surrenders one of the very few GOP victories under Obama.
They say even the original spending cuts only cut the growth of spending.
And they say Democrats have now won immediate spending increases in return for an empty promise to cut in the future.
Not so much Mickey Mouse as Wimpy.
The greatest benefit for Republicans may be avoiding another partial government shutdown. Some conservatives, like Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh, say "Bring it on!" But GOP leaders believe another shutdown would play into the Democrats' hands, distracting the public from Obamacare's failures and reprising everything from furloughs to shutting down White House tours.
So there are arguments for and against this deal.
But one thing is clear.
While Democrats and Republicans hasten to take their holiday break
... there will be no break from our mounting national debt.
Modern Family and the Tax Code
If like me you've been happily married for years
(our wives, like Modern Family's Claire, may not be as enthused, but they put up with us)