At least for now. That is what is being reported in the New York Times. Patty Murray and Paul Ryan and the others are looking small and incremental, building a budget compromise rather than another attempt at a Grand Bargain that few want.
It appears the Grand Bargain is dead, at least for now:
With the government reopened and a debt default averted for now, Congressional negotiators on Thursday plunged into difficult budget talks to avoid a repeat crisis within months, and quickly agreed to lower their sights from the sort of grand bargain that has eluded the two parties for three years.New York Times
To improve the prospects for some success, the negotiators largely agreed at a closed-door breakfast on Thursday that a deal involving significant new tax revenues and large-scale changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, whose growth in an aging population is driving long-term projections of growing debt, is not going to happen.
Instead, they agreed, the talks will aim at a more modest, confidence-building measure to replace the sequestration cuts in 2014. Negotiators could aim higher, for a deal saving at least $1 trillion over the next nine years to substitute completely for the arbitrary sequestration cuts. But neither side was hopeful of that.
Even with lower sights, negotiators face the same hurdle over taxes that has ended a series of bipartisan talks in 2011 — between Mr. Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner; between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader; and between lawmakers on a so-called supercommittee.
I never liked the Grand Bargain premise, and it looks as if there is no real constituency for it. The Republicans will not agree to new taxes or loophole closing for new revenue and Democrats (rightfully) will not cut Social Security or Medicare as the Republicans want. Even chained cpi, while not gutting Social Security, is not a good idea because it will harm people. If Social Security needs adjustments in the future, rasing the tax cut-off to $200,000 (or another higher figure) likely will solve many potential problems.
It looks as if they are playing smaller ball up there, and that is good. Nonetheless, it is good that the AFL-CIO came out strongly yesterday against changes to Social Security.
In an interview, Damon Silvers, the policy director of the AFL-CIO, laid down a hard line, putting Dems on notice that any agreement that cuts entitlement benefits — even in a deal that includes GOP concessions on tax hikes — is a nonstarter. Silvers strongly suggested labor would withhold support in 2014 from any Dem lawmaker who supports such a deal.The Plum Line
“We are opposed to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits cuts. Period,” Silvers told me. “There will be no cover for members of either party who vote for such a thing.”
Silvers said the AFL-CIO also opposes the entitlements cuts in the President’s budget, such as Chained CPI and a form of Medicare means testing. It’s unclear how, or whether, those will figure in what Dems bring to the table in the budget talks, which are mandated by the deal just reached to end the crisis.
So moderately good news. Now we need to focus on 2014 and winning back the House.