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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Fiscal Talk Freeze-Out

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With sequestration looming and political leaders conducting fiscal diplomacy via dueling press conferences, one might be forgiven for wondering whether a cabal of staff members employed by the White House and the House Speaker might be convening in secret to prepare the nuts and bolts of a deal to avert budget cuts by Veg-O-Matic.

Indeed, Washington Post star reporter Bob Woodward earlier this month proposed delegating much of the dealmaking to technically adept staffers.

But it’s not happening. As the posturing and threat-making continues, Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says, “There are no discussions underway. As you know, the House has passed legislation to replace the sequester with other common-sense cuts and reforms – but Senate Democrats and the White House have not acted.”

The Office of Management and Budget and the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for House Majority Eric Cantor, R-Va., said, “For years, President Obama has been predicting economic growth and lower unemployment while embracing policies that achieve negative results. More government spending and higher taxes are not the answer to our economic challenges.

"We cannot free future generations from mountains of debt, nor achieve true economic recovery, if we continue on the same wasteful spending path in Washington. House Republicans twice last year passed legislation to replace the sequester with responsible reforms to entitlement programs -- the major drivers of our deficit. Rather than opposing our efforts, President Obama should join us.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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