Afternoon Roundup: "Opportunity Lost" Edition

Federal Employees

Wanted to be sure you saw these op-eds and editorials after House Republicans backed away from negotiating a larger, comprehensive agreement to reduce the deficit and ensure America pays its bills. While Republicans have said they agree that we must pay our nation’s bills and argue that deficit reduction is critical to boosting the economy and creating jobs, they continue to fight for tax breaks for the wealthy while ending Medicare, rather than compromising on a balanced agreement.

Washington Post Op-ed: Boehner’s Decision Means An Opportunity Lost

“House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise announcement late Saturday that he was abandoning efforts to reach a comprehensive budget agreement brings a sudden end to what may have been the best opportunity in years to deal with the country’s looming fiscal crisis.”

“Boehner pulled the plug on talks with the White House on a package that would have called for cuts in major entitlements programs as well as new tax revenues. It was a stunning decision, coming a day before President Obama and congressional leaders were due to resume their negotiations.”

“[The President] was reportedly clear throughout the budget talks that new revenues had to be part of an overall agreement. On that, he has support from outside analysts and politicians who have tried to design solutions to the fiscal problem. Virtually all, including the president’s debt and deficit commission, recommended a balanced package that would have included new revenues and entitlement reforms.”

“By putting cuts in entitlements into the discussion, Obama had moved himself closer to the center and demonstrated to political independents that, above all, he is trying to bring the two parties together to solve big problems.”

Washington Post Op-ed: The Cost of Being Stubborn:

“The late-breaking news Saturday night that talks toward a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan had been scrapped was a devastating blow to the many who had begun to hope that a big bipartisan solution was possible.”

“Republicans have made enormous advances toward government reforms that were viewed as unachievable a year ago. Voting no may have become the aphrodisiac of small-government conservatives, but it is not necessarily an act of bravery or wisdom.”

Baltimore Sun Editorial: Obama calls the GOP's bluff

“House Speaker John Boehner appears sincere in his desire to strike such a deal. But the division in the Republican caucus among those who recognize the importance of the opportunity they have been offered and those who can't see past the anti-tax dogma of the conservative base is scuttling the whole effort. Republicans are giving ample evidence that concern about the size of the federal debt that they have stoked over the last few years was empty rhetoric and that they put ideological purity over the good of the country. There is still time to salvage the situation and accomplish something meaningful, but Republicans will have to show that they are willing to compromise.”

USA Today Editorial: Partisans Scuttle Grand Bargain on Debt Ceiling

“The same would go for the U.S. government. Its triple-A credit rating would be downgraded. Interest rates would rise, offsetting most or all of the savings from any deficit cutting efforts.”

“It gets worse. Because the government borrows about 40 cents of every dollar it spends and pays a bit more for interest on the debt, federal spending would have to be cut immediately by about 44%, throwing the already struggling economy into chaos. ‘Handling all payments for important and popular programs’ such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and pay for troops on active duty would ‘quickly become impossible,’ says a sobering new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank led by former Republican and Democratic Senate leaders.”

“Much of the government would have to shut down. To keep air traffic controllers, customs inspectors, FBI agents and the people who send out benefits checks on duty would mean trimming elsewhere. Take your pick: Veterans benefits? College students' Pell Grants? IRS refunds? Payments to the tens of thousands of businesses that supply the government with everything from pens to missiles?”