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from Reihan Salam:

GOP: Beyond repealing to reforming

The last time the federal government approached its statutory debt limit, Republicans in the House of Representatives fought tooth and nail to attach tough conditions to any increase. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shepherded a “clean” debt limit increase through that barely raised an eyebrow.

This increase didn’t even set a dollar amount. It simply suspended the debt limit until next March. I can almost hear the conversation: “So, where should we set the new debt limit?” “Ah, you know, whatever!”

One clue as to why House Republicans went along with Boehner’s clean debt limit increase is the vote total. The bill was backed by 193 Democrats and only 28 Republicans. You could say that Democratic lawmakers rescued their Republican counterparts from having to take responsibility for increasing the debt limit.

Yet, after loudly demanding a clean debt limit increase time and again, it’s not as though Democrats could reject the offer without looking like fools. With little fanfare, Boehner steered the congressional GOP away from another destructive crisis, in which bickering Republicans face off against a president who gets to look decisive by insisting that the debt limit be raised.

from The Great Debate:

Opposing Obamacare: GOP’s defining issue

After the French Revolution, the statesman and diplomat Talleyrand said of the Bourbon kings, “They learned nothing and they forgot nothing.” The same might be said of congressional Republicans after their disastrous government shutdown adventure.

Obamacare survives. That itself is something of a miracle. Look at how many near-death experiences it has been through. The loss of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 2009 deprived Democrats of the majority they needed to end a Senate filibuster. They managed to circumvent the filibuster by applying a controversial rule that allowed the bill to pass with a simple majority.

from The Great Debate:

Saving Defense dollars: From BRAC to ORAC

While the government shutdown continues because of the Democrats’ and Republicans’ profound disagreement, the real issue facing the nation is something that both parties agree on, in principle: the need to reduce the size of the federal deficit.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration have made some steps in this direction, though aiming indiscriminately at certain parts of government far more than others. Half of all cuts, for example, come from the Defense Department.

from Tales from the Trail:

Let’s fight…

The overnight news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s resignation sets up a global battle over who will succeed him in the IMF’s glass-and-steel headquarters in Washington. But, of course, that’s not the only fight in town.

The bipartisan group of budget negotiators now known as the Gang-of-Six-Minus-One is expected to meet today to try to salvage hopes of a budget compromise after a shouting match over Medicare sent Republican Senator Tom Coburn to the exit door.

from Tales from the Trail:

Senator Coburn’s waste line — $11.5 billion in 2010 spending

Republican Senator Tom Coburn has released his "Wastebook 2010" report, a list of government spending that adds up to over $11.5 billion which he considers wasteful.

It includes burping cows, Vidalia onions, a 2,500-year-old mummy, and finding love on the Internet. USA-TAXES/

from Tales from the Trail:

Senator Coburn cites Thomson Reuters at healthcare summit

USA-HEALTHCARE/Republican Senator Tom Coburn is obviously a big fan of Thomson Reuters. He cited Thomson Reuters reports throughout his presentation at the White House healthcare summit.

Coburn, an Oklahoma physician who opposes the sweeping Democratic healthcare overhaul, said lawmakers should focus first on reducing hundreds of billions of dollars of wasteful spending in the U.S. healthcare system. He cited recent studies by Thomson Reuters showing wasteful spending and how patients are postponing medical care due to cost.

from Tales from the Trail:

Republican senators call for ending era of ‘permanent politicians’

Don't expect the U.S. Congress -- packed with old men and women who have been in office for decades -- to embrace a proposal to term limit themselves.

Republican senators Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sam Brownback offered such a measure on Tuesday, saying it would be good to get fresh blood on Capitol Hill. USA/

from Tales from the Trail:

Senator Harkin defends earmark to research pig odor

Some might think it would be hard to defend spending $1.8 million on researching how to deal with the odor from pig manure, but Senator Tom Harkin found it pretty easy to do.GERMANY/

Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, succeeded in getting the funds included in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that is pending in the Senate, drawing protests from some like Senator John McCain that it is wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

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