Even those cuts are likely to test Republicans, many of whom were not in Congress the last time it passed a deficit-cutting budget reconciliation bill in 2005. That measure was approved by a GOP-controlled Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, but getting it passed was enormously difficult for Republicans. It cut $100 billion over a decade.
The 2005 debate, for example, featured numerous power plays by lawmakers protecting parochial interests, including a dramatic, last-minute push by Ohio Republicans to reverse Medicaid cuts that would have hit Buckeye State manufacturers of oxygen equipment.
Meanwhile, there's no sign that another key element in the GOP budget will advance this year. It's a tax plan promising sharply lower rates in exchange for eliminating many popular tax breaks. The GOP tax reform plan would lower the top rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, but at the risk of eliminating deductions on mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes. It's simply too controversial and difficult to do in a hyper-polarized election year.
Separately, House Republicans also promise to cut about 5 percent from domestic agencies whose operating budgets will be written by the appropriations committees later this year. But the move breaks faith with last summer's hard-fought budget pact and is likely to be reversed in any final deal next fall or winter.
The upcoming real-world budgeting follows moves last month to extend payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits and prevent a cut in Medicare payments to doctors — adding $101 billion to the budget deficit for this year and $40 billion for the upcoming 2013 fiscal year.
That bill was partially paid for by about $50 billion in new revenues and spending cuts that accrue slowly over the coming decade.
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