The sand siphoning through the hourglass is running short for Congress and their efforts to avoid a government shutdown. Within the coming weeks, Congressional leadership and President Barack Obama will negotiate and draw up a budget to provide funding for the country’s most essential discretionary programs.
What makes the current budget talks more intriguing than those of the past is the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner. Facing rapacious threats from the far right over the funding of Planned Parenthood, Boehner is sacrificing his leadership to remain unshackled from the party extremists.
No longer beholden to any misgivings, Boehner can proceed to work with Obama on a sensible budget that is not held captive by fractional interests within the parties; this case being the pro-life Republicans bantering for the end of Planned Parenthood.
With pressure mounting, the President and Republican leadership will both submit their proposals with arduous yet muddling effort. The President will battle for an increase in the Federal debt ceiling, a long-term, transportation-funding bill and a reopening of the Export-Import Bank, according to The New York Times.
Reciprocation on the right entails an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare – limiting new entrants and ensuring solvency – and readjusting the inflation index for Social Security.
Democrats intend to fulfill the fiscal needs of public programs while Republicans are inclined to cut spending and limit the expansion of entitlements.
The GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed a budget within the last year, which included severe cuts in social spending; however, it propagated the hemorrhaging of funding to the Pentagon in the form of increased military spending.
If compromise could seize the day along with some form of pragmatism, a timely budget can be passed by Dec. 11 – the new deadline for the budget for the next fiscal year.
The stop-gap measure was passed hours before the Oct. 1 deadline, with a 277-151 vote in the House of Representatives, according to Reuters.
Boehner has been acclaimed to be a practical politician, even by Obama. His resignation demonstrates his refusal to maintain his parties’ blithe opposition to compromise in holding the budget talks hostage to programs they wish to end.
First, the Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling and then work to put a comprehensive budget in place.
Editor’s Note: Information from Reuters, The New York Times and The Brooking’s Institution was used in this report.