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Accordingly, if the 2011 budget fails to pass on Thursday, it will be because the unlikely, unwitting coalition of conservative Republican budget hawks and left-wing, big-government Democrats combined to defeat the measure. Leaders of both parties hope to find enough votes in the middle to pass the bill, but the faster the national debt increases, the harder it is to avoid the question that President Obama is supposed to address tomorrow night in a nationally televised address: how do we start living within our means before it’s too late? The right believes that deep, meaningful cuts – including cuts to the big entitlement programs – are necessary. On the other hand, the left believes that tax increases aimed at higher income individuals and corporations are the way to go. Both sides argue that a compromise position essentially kicks the can down the road a little farther and, in that sense, the vote over the 2011 budget is a microcosm of the more important and far bigger battle to reign in the national debt.
Some of the cuts included in the bill will certainly be popular on the right, like reducing the EPA’s budget by $1.6 billion and cutting spending for community health centers by $600 million. Likewise, some Democrats trumpeted the deal as a victory for their side, because Republicans didn’t get all of the cuts they wanted. Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, praised the bill for preserving “critical programs” like Head Start and Pell Grants. Yet, no one is kidding themselves into believing that this bill addresses the nation’s $14 trillion deficit in any meaningful way. When the president addresses the nation tonight, Americans will find out what plans – if any – he has to deal with that, much more important problem.
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