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Why the Senate Democrats' Budget Will Be Vague

March 11, 2013 The GOP has long hoped that by prodding the Senate majority to produce a budget, it could force Democrats to commit to paper some unpopular political choices on spending cuts and health care programs. But if Republicans want specifics this spring, they’ll have to wait. The Senate Democrats’ budget, scheduled ...

Obama's Dinner With Senators Eases Tensions but Doesn't Fix the Budget

March 8, 2013 It turns out that a fancy dinner can ease tensions between even long-avowed frenemies. That was the Republican senators’ takeaway from their roughly two-hour dinner on Wednesday night with President Obama at the Jefferson Hotel. Among the topics discussed: Medicare and Social Security spending; tax reform; and the need for ...

Furloughs Come to Main Street

March 1, 2013 Washington is the capital of the federal workforce, so it’s understandable that furlough fright is strongest here. What will happen to the tide of commuters coursing along K Street or Rock Creek Parkway every morning? But for federal agencies, the sequester is manifest destiny. The U.S. government’s workforce is scattered ...

Sequester Fears May Be Overhyped, Overblown and Overly Politicized

February 28, 2013 Let’s be clear about one thing: The across-the-board spending cuts known as the "sequester” aren’t a doomsday scenario, or a meteorite that will blow up the economy. Teachers, FBI agents, and Border Patrol officers will not get fired tomorrow, when the sequester kicks in. The Internal Revenue Service will still ...

Jack Lew Could Be Treasury Secretary by the Weekend, but His First Moves Are Unclear

February 26, 2013 So far, the Senate proceedings on President Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew, have been surprisingly free of political fireworks, which could pave the way for a confirmation vote by the end of the week. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on Lew’s nomination Tuesday morning, with ...

Coming to A State Near You: Big Spending Cuts

February 25, 2013 The White House is trying to raise pressure on Congress to cancel automatic spending cuts by releasing the most detailed accounting to date of how the reductions would hit in the 50 states. The cuts, known as the sequester, take effect on March 1. Among the highlights of the White ...

Analysis: New Simpson-Bowles Plan Overstates the Deficit Problem

February 20, 2013 Deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles just don’t quit. The duo unveiled the latest iteration of their deficit-reduction plan on Tuesday, which calls for $2.4 trillion in cuts over 10 years — yet another chapter in their ongoing debt campaign that has not gained much political traction since 2010. ...

Obama May Avoid Talking Sequestration in State of the Union

February 12, 2013 When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address tonight, he’s expected to give scant attention to one of the most pressing issues facing Washington: $85 billion in deep spending cuts set to begin on March 1 for government programs from Head Start to the Food and Drug Administration ...

Why the vote to suspend the debt ceiling didn't end the threat to the U.S. economy

January 25, 2013 Washington breathed a sigh of relief this week when the House passed a bill to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling through May 18—pushing off a massive fiscal fight for yet another day. To the Democrats, it seemed that House Republicans had finally realized that brinkmanship over the economy was bad ...

Analysis: The man who could save Obama's legacy

January 9, 2013 (Editor's note: With President Obama expected to name Jack Lew as Treasury secretary on Thursday, here's a profile in the Nov. 3, 2012 print edition of National Journal.) Jacob Lew isn’t the most obvious figure to be charged with securing the Obama legacy. The purposefully low-key White House operative is ...