White House, GOP leaders appear close to budget deal

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Boehner is running out of time to raise the debt ceiling.

WASHINGTON – Speaker John Boehner is trying to make one last deal as he heads for the exits, pushing to finalize a far-reaching, two-year budget agreement before handing Congress’ top job over to Paul Ryan this week, congressional officials said Monday. “Common sense.” The label that politicians apply to policies they’re trying to sell that aren’t automatically popular with the public or others in their party. The deal, in concert with a must-pass increase in the federal borrowing limit, would solve the thorniest issues awaiting Ryan, who is set to be elected speaker on Thursday. It’s a deliberately vague form of rebranding intended to make any idea seem like a safe, sensible no-brainer – and it’s a term you can expect to hear a lot more of if, as expected, Rep. Congressional leaders are said to be nearing an agreement, which would then need to win backing from most Democrats and at least several dozen Republicans for House passage.

It would also take budget showdowns and government shutdown fights off the table until after the 2016 presidential election, a potential boon to Republican candidates who might otherwise face uncomfortable questions about messes in the GOP-led Congress. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin becomes the new House speaker. “We can show the country what a common-sense conservative agenda looks like,” Ryan told his colleagues last week in announcing he would run to succeed retiring Ohio Rep. But in recent days, the tone of the comments on Meadows’s page, and those of the other members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, have changed significantly. “You should all be replaced,” a critic told Rep. It would suspend the debt limit into early 2017 and establish new spending levels through September 2017, according to people familiar with the discussions. Top House and Senate aides have been meeting with White House officials in search of a deal that would give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies budget relief in exchange for cuts elsewhere in the budget.

In an earlier statement, he also said: “Make no mistake: I believe that the ideas and principles of results-driven, common-sense conservatism are the keys to a better tomorrow – a tomorrow in which all of God’s children will be better off than they are today.” As innocuous as such statements might sound, they still have drawn criticism. Paul Mirengoff, writing on the conservative blog PowerLine, accused the current Ways and Means Committee chairman of falling “into the trap that enables liberalism. Boehner, who is preparing to step down later this week after being forced by GOP conservatives to retire early. “We’re hopeful to have something to announce tonight,” said a senior congressional leadership aide, granted anonymity to discuss the private negotiations.

Labrador, R-Idaho, one of the most persistent thorns in Boehner’s side, “a RINO establishment lap dog” and “another go-along to get along phony who will GLADLY step on the throats of the Conservative electorate.” Things may never be the same for the Freedom Caucus after most of its members moved last week to support Rep. He can do no big thing that is genuinely conservative because, to date and probably for the foreseeable future, the Democrats stand steadfastly in the way.” “Common sense” has long been a common Ryan term. In January, he praised the House’s passage of a bill aimed at easing the export of liquefied natural gas as “common-sense energy legislation.” While campaigning as Mitt Romney’s running mate in October 2012, he touted Romney’s record in blue-state Massachusetts: “This is the kind of climate and cooperation and common-sense reforms we need in Washington.” And in their 2010 book “Young Guns,” he and his friends/co-authors Rep. Many conservatives disliked the measure and many on the GOP’s right flank are likely to oppose the new one, which would apply to the 2016-2017 budget years. “We’re just trying to get something done as soon as we can,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Monday as he left the Capitol headed for a lunch hosted by former senators at the Metropolitan Club, where President Barack Obama was also to be in attendance.

The groundswell of support from hard-core conservative voters that emboldened the group as it battled Boehner and the GOP establishment seemed to subside for the first time in months. Obama wants roughly $74 billion in additional defence and nondefense spending this year to ease agency budget curbs imposed by strict spending caps set under a 2011 debt and budget deal.

Kevin McCarthy put their theme right on the back cover: “It’s time to move the country forward with a clear agenda based on common sense for the common good.” “Common sense” also is enduringly popular with other lawmakers: In addition to being nonspecific, it invokes Thomas Paine’s historic manifesto of the same name. That has put its members in the unfamiliar position of defending their right flank. “Look, I imagine that there’s theoretically a chance that (we) all went from being radical extremist crazies to Washington sellouts in 12 hours,” said Rep.

The Sunlight Foundation’s CapitolWords.org shows that its usage in floor debates has been steady over the last two decades, and split almost exactly evenly between the two parties. The talks appeared to stall two weeks ago because of disagreements over how to pay for any relief from the sequester, which remains the biggest sticking point in the current discussions. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., a Freedom Caucus leader. “But maybe a more likely narrative is that we really think that this is a good step for the conservative movement. Details were sketchy but the tentative pact anticipates designating increases for the Pentagon as emergency war funds that can be made exempt from budget caps. Its use soared during the first year of President Obama’s term, when Democrats were trying to push through a variety of bills that they said fit the description of common sense.

And it’s up to us to try to explain that to people, and that’s what we’ve been doing.” The anger over Ryan’s ascent has been fueled by voices across the conservative media landscape. Last week, doubts surfaced among Republicans over whether they could secure the bare minimum 30 votes to join with Democrats to pass a “clean” debt-limit bill, which doesn’t carry policy changes that are unlikely to pass the Senate.

On the Internet, sites such as Breitbart.com and the Drudge Report have pumped out a steady stream of anti-Ryan stories casting doubt on his record, while such prominent commentators as Erick Erickson, Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus have sharpened their teeth and urged conservatives to contact lawmakers and tell them to spurn Ryan. If, for some reason, Boehner can’t clear the table before his Oct. 30 departure, Ryan will have just two days to get a debt-ceiling increase bill through the House, approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama by Nov. 3. Offsetting spending cuts included reforms to the Agriculture department’s crop insurance program, a “site neutral” proposal that would curb Medicare payments for outpatient services provided by hospitals, and extending a 2 percentage point cut in Medicare payments to doctors through the tail end of a 10-year budget “window.” Lawmakers hoped to address two other key issues as well: a shortfall looming next year in Social Security payments to the disabled and a large increase for many retirees in Medicare premiums for doctors’ visits and other outpatient care.

Under the contours of the current talks, the deal would likely be paid for with a combination of budget cuts elsewhere, new fees and relying partly on an overseas contingency fund set aside for military operations. Particularly brutal have been the syndicated talk-radio hosts who have helped foment the anti-establishment outrage that has kept Donald Trump atop the GOP presidential race and forced Jeb Bush, a well-financed mainstream conservative, to undertake a campaign shake-up. This final effort by Boehner could result in a politically heroic act to resolve looming crises despite deep resistance from the GOP majority in the House — or it could cement his standing among hard-right Republicans that his willingness to compromise with President Obama makes him insufficiently conservative. “Listen, this is not about us,” Boehner said last week. “Our job is to do the right thing for the American people every day. Laura Ingraham last week called Ryan “basically John Boehner with better abs” and featured segment after segment attacking Ryan’s positions on trade and immigration.

Obama and others in his party have invoked the common-sense label in attempting to draw a distinction from previous efforts to ban all popular weapons and instead move toward what they regard as more limited, pragmatic steps. Congress and the White House have been discussing a temporary re-allocation of payroll taxes from Social Security’s retirement fund to the disability fund. Officials who described the discussions did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about confidential negotiations.

Dave Brat, R-Va., – counts himself among the roughly 70 percent of Freedom Caucus members who say they are willing to support Ryan. “When they make decisions, it’s not in haste,” Brat said of the caucus. “And so I would ask the American people: Hold your fire. Just days are left for the deal to come together before Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is elected on Thursday to replace Boehner, R-Ohio, who is leaving Congress under pressure from conservative lawmakers disgusted with his history of seeking compromise and Democratic votes on issues like the budget. Wait till you see exactly what our group is doing, and I think you’ll see that it’s coherent, it makes sense.” One problem for Brat and his Freedom Caucus colleagues is that Ryan has remained mum for the most part on his intentions. When he spoke to the House Republican Conference on Tuesday, Ryan set out conditions for agreeing to serve as speaker, including an end to the House rule allowing a speaker to be ousted by a simple majority.

The upshot is that the disagreement over the budget boils down to around $38 billion in nondefense spending, which is less than 1% of total federal spending. To not raise the debt ceiling is to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States and undermine the foundation of the global financial system, which is U.S. treasuries. He opted instead for gauzy generalities: “We can make the House a more open and inclusive body – one where every member can contribute to the legislative process.

The latter has proven to be especially toxic for Ryan in conservative circles, to the point that his chief partner in pushing reform legislation, Rep. Don’t say anything at all about Paul Ryan!’ “ “There’s a small group that wields an inordinate influence and power over the group,” Gutierrez added. “They are slaves and captives to Laura Ingraham.” Meadows said on Thursday that he and like-minded members were more concerned that Ryan might have made contradictory pledges to different groups while courting support last week. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., a backbencher who has emphasized procedural reforms. “If you’ve got problems with a man today, and the man tells you, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll be a different person’ – it doesn’t happen,” said Rep. Commentators and activists might be exercised about Ryan’s immigration positions, they say, but lawmakers are more focused on how he’ll run the House. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said calls to his office were running 2 to 1 against Ryan, but he said passions were at “a much lower level” than after he voted for Boehner in January.

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