Today: (Washington Post)
House and Senate GOP leaders agreed yesterday to a five-year budget plan for cutting spending for Medicaid and other entitlement programs by $41.6 billion and a separate measure to open the Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling.
The authority to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration -- long sought by President Bush, energy companies and Republican leaders -- was attached to a separate fiscal 2006 defense spending bill that has widespread support in both parties because of its funding for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rushing to get out of town for the holidays, the House approved both bills in early morning votes Monday. The pre-dawn showdown hid the House votes from public view, a maneuver that leaders have used all year on difficult votes.
Democrats and liberal economic analysts also said the budget deal, although less dramatic than an earlier, House-passed version, would still allow states to impose significant new costs on health care for the poor, cut child support enforcement and foster care aid, and impose new work requirements on welfare recipients.
Stevens's gambit on oil drilling is that Democratic and moderate Republican opponents of the measure will be unwilling to hold up legislation that funds U.S. troops. As he emerged late yesterday from a final negotiating session, Stevens said he could not predict the outcome.
Talks tough, standing up for what he feels as right, until the chips are on the table and he folds his pat hand.
Republican leaders hailed the agreements as proof that they were finally getting a handle on the federal budget after a five-year binge of new spending and tax cuts that turned record budget surpluses into a stream of massive deficits. The agreement would cut less than one-half of 1 percent from a projected $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years. Depending on the outcome of negotiations over as much as $60 billion in tax cuts, the savings in spending could vanish.So you have to agree, if tax cuts for the rich go through, these cuts in social programs will have been made to pay for those cuts, without reducing the federal deficit.
Walsh challengers - are you reading this?