In case you aren't sufficiently depressed, Howard Gleckman guesses that "President Obama and House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-OH) .... [will] give lip service to 'working together' and the need for deficit reduction, but will do little of either." A reader notes that the one party running on actual spending cuts - i.e. the Medicare cuts in the health insurance reform - was punished:

Republicans may be claiming the latest vote was against big spending and deficits.  But the GOP relied so heavily on votes from the elderly that it suggests what really upset these voters was $500bn in Medicare cuts over 10 years, and more than $1 trillion in the next 10. Anyone looking at the long term projections for spending knows that the main worry is Medicare, and this is the number one issue in any serious attempt to curb the deficit.

That Obama was willing to take on this issue says a lot for his courage and responsibility that few are giving him credit for.  Of course Obama's proposals didn't go anywhere near far enough, but he seems to have breached the limits of what is politically possible in addressing the number one spending problem (and taxes too, simply by returning only the very rich to Clinton-era levels).  Republicans have gotten away with a nonsense, that the government should pay for whatever health care the elderly want, but that either raising taxes to pay for it, or restrictions on how the money is spent, would threaten freedom.  This is madness, and makes a budget crisis look inevitable.

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