So we're in a budget squeeze, right? And something's gotta give, right?
Don't bet on it. Here's top Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) talking about one of the single-biggest items in the federal budget, Medicare:
"What we're about is policy," the California Democrat told ABC News. "What we want is to change the view that the Republicans have that it is OK to abolish Medicare [and] to make seniors pay more for less while we give tax breaks to big oil. That's not a formula that I think works for the middle class."
Cuts to seniors' Medicare benefits are "absolutely" off the table in the current legislative-White House deficit-reduction talks, Pelosi said.
And here's what the Republican-led Congress is up to regarding defense spending for 2012 (assuming the U.S. every passes another budget again), another mega-item in the budget:
The House Appropriations Committee bill would provide $119 billion for the two wars, $841 million more than President Barack Obama sought….The bill would provide $530 billion in overall spending for the budget year beginning Oct. 1, an increase of $17 billion over the current year but $9 billion less than Obama has requested. It provides the money for a 1.6 percent pay raise for military personnel…
So increases there. And to get a better sense of where the supposedly skinflint GOP has its head, consider the committee's attempt to resurrect two engines for the same plane:
The Pentagon plans to buy engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter solely from Pratt & Whitney of Hartford, Connecticut. The department recently notified General Electric and Rolls Royce, which are working on the alternative in Ohio and Indiana, that it had terminated the contract. The companies said they would continue work on the alternative engine using their own money.
The crux of their argument is that forcing Pratt & Whitney to compete against them would produce more efficient, less expensive engines for the nearly 2,500 F-35 fighters the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps plan to buy and fly over the next 40 years. Eliminating the GE-Rolls Royce team gives Pratt & Whitney a "$100 billion monopoly" on the engines, according to the two companies.
The House defense blueprint tries to revive the extra engine, including a provision that would force the Pentagon to reopen competition if the department has to ask Congress for more money so Pratt & Whitney can build the chosen engine. The House appropriations committee provided no money for it, however.
So the Dems are digging in against the "gutting" of Medicare (which the GOP has also pledged to support anyway) and the GOP is hellbent on spending more money on defense (though not as much as the amount requested by the Democratic president). Let us be clear: Under Paul Ryan's budget plan, defense spending would come in at $838 billion in 2021. Under Obama's plan the figure would be $1.039 trillion. Overall spending 10 years out would be $4.7 trillion under Ryan and $5.7 trillion under Obama.
Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) is the GOP point man on cutting a deal to trade real "cuts" for boosting the debt limit. Earlier this year, just as he was taking office, Boehner couldn't name a single program he wanted to cut. He's voted for all the wars that had votes, is in favor of that duplicate jet engine (hey it's built in Ohio!), voted for Medicare prescription drugs, No Child Left Behind, TARP…
And now he and the president (who wants to increase spending $2 trillion over the next decade; see above) are going to play golf.
Spending reductions? Don't count on them. Unless voters make it clear that when they say they want a government that lives within its means, they actually know mean what it says.