Congress can’t cut

Among the many upsetting aspects of federal spending negotiations going on in Washington is a comparison of budget cuts in dispute to those agreed upon with little controversy.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are discussing how to avoid another budget showdown like the one that caused a partial shutdown of government this fall. They have little time to come to an agreement that majorities of lawmakers in their respective parties will support. A deal needs to be reached by mid-January.

To judge by press reports, it appears talks over spending come down to a difference of about $31 billion in a budget that tops $1 trillion for non-war and non-emergency spending.

Ryan and Murray must find ways to cut spending by that much during the coming year.

But according to The Associated Press, agreement already has been reached on $18 billion in cuts that would represent no limit on government. Those reductions would be made by cutting “mandatory” programs, including Medicare reimbursements to health care providers.

In other words, really cutting back on government is controversial. Cutting services to Americans is not.

Only in Washington …

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