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Short-term or long-term? That is the question

It’s a central question in the debt ceiling debate: How long should the nation’s new borrowing authority last? From the start, President Barack Obama has insisted that Congress must raise the current $14.3 trillion debt limit by $2.4 trillion. That would work out to about a 17-month extension, setting up the next vote safely after next year’s elections. But what’s the magic in that? The nation has increased the debt ceiling time and again by shorter periods, often during presidential election years. Republicans, meanwhile, in a plan put forth by House Speaker John Boehner, want a six-month debt ceiling increase
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Aug. 2: A phony debt-limit deadline?

Will the sky fall on August 2 if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling? Not likely, according to analysts, who say that even without the ability to borrow more money, the government could avoid a devastating default for another week or so. That raises the question of how urgently action is needed to increase the nation’s borrowing limit. For weeks, President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have stressed that the U.S. Treasury will run out of room to borrow funds next Tuesday and have warned of dire consequences if Congress does not raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion
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Ouch! Government health care costs will hit $4.6 trillion by 2020

The nation’s health care tab is on track to hit $4.6 trillion in 2020, accounting for about $1 of every $5 in the economy, government number crunchers estimate in a report out Thursday. How much is that? Including government and private money, health care spending in 2020 will average $13,710 for every man, woman and child, says Medicare‘s Office of the Actuary. By comparison, U.S. health care spending this year is projected to top $2.7 trillion, or about $8,650 per capita, roughly $1 of $6 in the economy. Most of that spending is for care for the sickest people. The
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Right-wing puts Boehner in a vise

Neither the House nor the Senate has a clear path forward for must-pass legislation to allow the government to continue to borrow to pay its bills, putting lawmakers and financial markets alike on edge less than a week before the deadline for heading off the nation’s first-ever default. House Speaker John Boehner was forced late Tuesday to postpone a floor vote on his plan, which originally had been scheduled for Wednesday, after nonpartisan congressional scorekeepers said the proposal would cut spending less than advertised. He promised to rewrite the measure, but the move means the House can’t vote on it
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Lots of hype, few actual spending cuts

They may promise to reduce federal spending by $3 trillion or thereabouts, but the immediate spending cuts in rival budget and debt proposals by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid only measure a few billion dollars. The rest are mostly promises — and in Reid’s case, a glaring $1 trillion ploy. Reid, D-Nev., claims $2.7 trillion in budget savings over a decade in his plan. But $1 trillion of that comes from reduced war costs from a troop drawdown that’s occurring anyway. Reid budgets $127 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year and
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Lots of posturing, no movement towards debt deal

Rival Democratic and Republican plans to raise the government’s borrowing ability have thrust Congress into a standoff just one week away from a potentially devastating debt crisis. President Barack Obama made a last ditch call for compromise, but House Speaker John Boehner said negotiations with the White House had been futile. “We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare,” Obama declared Monday in a prime-time address to the nation. Boehner, in a nationally televised rebuttal, said he had given “my all” to work out a deal with Obama. “The president would not take yes
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Boehner’s two-step plan: Risky politics

So many Americans are so sick of political acrimony over raising the U.S. debt limit that it might seem unfathomable to have to do it all over again early next year. But that is exactly what the top U.S. Republican, John Boehner, is proposing for some practical political reasons. If Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, prevails, President Barack Obama will sign legislation by August 2 to raise U.S. borrowing authority by about $1 trillion, or just enough to carry the government through March. That would set up a second tortured debt limit debate to avert default just
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Tea party to Boehner: Stand firm

Tea Party activists demanded House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner deliver on budget cuts at a rally on Monday at his Ohio offices, urging the Republican leader to “stand strong” in debt negotiations. About 100 people chanted “no more spending” and hoisted banners and signs reading “No New Taxes” and “Do Not Cave” outside the 11-term Republican’s offices near Cincinnati. “He needs to hear a resounding message that Americans want him to BE BOLD, STAND STRONG, CUT THE SPENDING,” said the rally announcement from the local Tea Party. Around the same time as the rally, Boehner outlined his party’s budget
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Pawlenty vs. Bachmann: A good political feud

Call it the Minnesota feud — Iowa style. The simmering rivalry between Republican presidential candidates Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann spilled out onto the campaign trail Monday as the two Minnesotans campaigned in the leadoff caucus state three weeks before a test vote by Iowa Republicans that could hinder or help their presidential bid. “She has a record for saying things that are off the mark and this is another example of that,” Pawlenty told 125 people in a Davenport restaurant as he responded to Bachmann’s criticism a day earlier that he had espoused the same policies as President Barack
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Boehner: GOP will do debt deal without Democrats if necessary

With bipartisan debt-limit talks deadlocked, House Republicans and Senate Democrats readied rival emergency fallback plans Sunday in hopes of reassuring world financial markets the U.S. government will avoid an unprecedented default. In a conference call, Speaker John Boehner summoned his conservative rank and file to swing behind a “new measure” that could clear both houses of Congress. “It won’t be ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ as we passed it,” he said, referring to a measure — killed in the Senate on Friday — that would have required spending cuts of an estimated $6 trillion as well as congressional approval of a
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