US debt limit bill gives political cover to both parties
Wednesday's bill does not require the Senate and House to agree on a budget, only to pass their own budget bills. If the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate manage to pass proposals, they are likely to be vastly different.
Last year, Democrats in the Senate rejected a House Republican budget that projected a plan to bring the budget into balance gradually over a 30-year period.
In pledging to eliminate budget deficits within 10 years, House Republicans are putting themselves on a path to writing a budget that will cut even more deeply into Medicare and Medicaid healthcare for the elderly, disabled and poor, and the Social Security retirement program.
Budget experts think the 10-year pledge will be a steep climb for Republicans, especially if they refuse to use any tax increases for deficit reduction and if they stick to previous proposals to slowly phase in benefit cuts for programs like Medicare.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are talking about defending those social safety net programs, investing in other programs and further raising taxes on the rich and big corporations, despite Republican insistence that tax increases are off the table.
Whether or not there is a sweet spot for compromise remains to be seen.
But with Senate passage looking certain on the Republican debt limit bill and Obama's approval all but guaranteed, Republicans are the ones who have blinked in this latest duel.
They have agreed to let government borrowing continue without extracting one penny's worth
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