Congress has little more than a week left to reach a budget deal before the deadline and the country defaults on its debts. President Obama said that he will not bend to Republicans and accept anything less than a “clean” raise of the debt ceiling.
Several leaks from Washington insiders have given the public some idea of what deal will be reached, and several have alluded to another “grand bargain” that will include a ceiling raise through March 2017. It sounds good on the surface, but it’s really another way for the Democrats to cave into Republican demands.
Members have been battling over how to fund the government and provide relief from a separate 2011 deal that created budget ceilings known as the sequester. Republicans have pushed to end the sequester for the Defense Department, but President Obama and Democrats want to get rid of the caps for both defense and non-defense spending.
A House source said that under the emerging package, both defense and nondefense programs would receive equal sequester relief.
The budget talks have also been linked to a long-term highway funding bill and a measure to renew the Export-Import Bank, but a congressional aide said those measures were not a part of the final deal.
The source said the final deal did include language to prevent double-digit premium hikes that would hit 8 million Medicare enrollees in 2016.
Averting the 52 percent premium increases has been a priority for Pelosi and could help win Democratic support for the package.
She began talks on the topic with Boehner in mid-September. Staving off the increases is expected to cost about $7.5 billion, and Democratic aides have said Pelosi’s office was quietly negotiating with Boehner on the offsets.
Despite this, it’s rumored that Social Security and Medicare will be hurt because of this “grand bargain.” Much like in 2013, the GOP is holding the government hostage. This time, however, they will try to slowly siphon funds from social programs, rather than force an outright government shutdown.
This is a prime time for Democrats to fight back against the Republicans, but they will probably emerge as the spineless corporate shills that they are.
For more on this story, visit Crooks & Liars “Are We Heading Toward Another Grand Bargain?”