posted on March 11, 2013 15:18
Divergent approaches toward government spending from Democrats and Republicans will highlight this week's spending debate in Washington. Few budget experts in Washington, however, are predicting that the plans Senate Democrats and House Republicans will release will go anywhere beyond the two chambers, and there is little confidence that Congress and President Obama will reverse the sequestration spending cuts.
The ever optimistic President is headed to the Democratic and Republican conferences for both the House and the Senate this week to face Republicans who are frustrated with a lack of long-term budget reduction in the president's proposals, and Democrats who are frustrated with what they say is his willingness to compromise on key entitlement programs that are essential to their party's platform.
Republicans and Democrats will release competing budget proposals within hours of one another, and Senate Democrats will release a version of a stopgap bill to keep the government funded through September 30 after the current temporary measure expires on March 27. The House passed its version last week to keep federal agencies running, which includes $85 billion in sequester cuts that kicked in on March 1. That bill would soften some of the defense cuts and give the administration greater flexibility to move funds around in those areas than is typically allowed under a continuing resolution. Final action on a two-chamber plan is being sought as early as next week. President Obama has yet to release his budget plan which is now more than two months late.
The Republican plan is expected to reflect determination to balance the budget within 10 years without raising taxes. Senate Democrats, who have not adopted a budget since 2009, are expected to push for new revenues by targeting tax loopholes and protecting entitlement benefits. The Democratic bill would also incorporate the sequester cuts, adding similar flexibility to other areas of government spending, including agriculture, homeland security, commerce, justice, and science programs.
The U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs and unemployment fell to 7.7 percent last month, down from 7.9 percent in January according to the Labor Department's latest monthly jobs report. However, the percentage of Americans who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more has remained near record highs.
Plenty of danger lies ahead as sequester cuts go into effect. The gross domestic product is expected to slow 0.5 percent and about 750,000 jobs could be lost by the end of the year.