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Done for now

Posted: December 26, 2013 9:12 a.m.
Updated: December 27, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Congress finally made some semblance of an effort to work together a couple of weeks ago in passing a two-year budget agreement which will preclude the possibility of another government shutdown this year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that with the agreement completed, lawmakers in Washington appear to be done with serious deficit reduction for the foreseeable future. Those members of Congress who believe the country needs to address the horrid deficits plaguing the country apparently have little leverage against their colleagues, who are apparently satisfied with the plan cobbled together by Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray.

Of course, meaningful budget reform is going to have to include entitlement changes. Ryan acknowledges that a change in the makeup of Congress -- read that to mean the GOP holding onto control of the House and seizing a majority in the Senate -- is going to have to occur before serious action is taken. It’s next to impossible to find Democrats in Washington who want to cut spending in any way. And many Republicans are also eying the election cycle. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who usually makes sense when he talks, screamed bloody murder recently at the prospect of slowing the growth -- not even cutting -- of military pensions.

With an election year only days away and Democrats pushing for more, not less, spending, the concept of serious budget reform, along with a restructuring of the tax code, seems a remote possibility. That’s bad for the long-term future of the country, but those sitting in Washington seem to be concerned not so much with that as with getting themselves re-elected.


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