sequester

The agreement announced Tuesday, however modest, is a step in the right direction.

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New bipartisan negotiations over fiscal policy are underway, as a result of the deal that ended the government shutdown. But don’t expect these negotiations to produce a “grand bargain” in which Democrats and Republicans each make major concessions.

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Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans, approached Democrats with a new offer over the weekend: He and his colleagues would vote to open the government and increase its borrowing authority, as long as Democrats would agree to accept the depleted spending levels of budget sequestration. Harry Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, said no thanks. It was the third time in less than a week Democrats had spurned a Republican overture.

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Someday, these budget wars are going to end. On that day, when the world is once again safe for the passage of farm bills and Ted Cruz has finally run out of historical analogies, we’ll remember the Great Budget Negotiation of 2013 as little more than a chapter in a far longer story: that of the sequester.

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Feeling nostalgic for big budget fights? Do you miss watching House Speaker John Boehner trying to control the Republican caucus? Are you eager for yet another deal that quietly starves government services and weakens the economy? Then you should be in a pretty good mood this morning.

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The country’s political class has been engaged in a rare bout of bipartisan self-congratulation of late over the growing consensus around the need for prison reform. Republican governors and state legislators who once championed lock ‘em up policies are now taking a softer line, citing the high cost of prisons and their personal belief in the power of redemption.

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“House Republicans have no idea how they’re going to lift the debt ceiling this fall,” Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report in Politico. But, they make clear, there’s plenty of brainstorming going on among top GOP brass on what to ask for—in exchange for funding the government to avoid a shutdown, lifting the debt ceiling, and raising spending from sequester levels.

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Not long ago, the emerging Beltway consensus was that the impact of the budget sequestration that went into effect last spring had been wildly overstated. The economic recovery was still ticking along, albeit too slowly for anyone's taste, and there were no reports of orphans being cast into the streets. The budget deficit was shrinking, thanks in part to the sequester cuts.

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Grover Norquist Isn't Losing Power: He Never Had It

An anti-tax activist in winter

He never had it

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Turbulence Ahead

Flight delays are forcing Republicans to face the facts on sequestration

Flight delays are forcing Republicans to face the facts on sequestration.

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