EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 23, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

The following are excerpts from editorials in other newspapers across New England:

Worried about a backlash next year from gridlock-weary voters, U.S. House and Senate negotiators have a workable plan to stave off another government shutdown, at least from now through next October.

Another such disaster would have moved attention from the roll-out woes of the Affordable Care Act to House Republicans’ central role in forcing the past couple of government shutdowns. Thus the GOP leadership seemed, if not eager, at least amenable to a compromise. But tea party types and the Koch brothers are threatening retaliation.

The agreement, struck between House Finance Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would restore about $63 billion in automatic spending cuts forced by “sequestration” in such areas as defense, education, Head Start, research and National Parks.

To do this, it would extend by two years a 2 percent cut in the previously expected increase for Medicare spending and reduce cost-of-living increases on military pensions. It would raise revenue via such devices as higher airline taxes for airport security (oops, officially call them “fees”); asking federal workers to pay in more for their pensions; forcing companies to raise their contributions to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and making energy and mining companies cover more of the administrative costs for their leases on federal property.

But the legislators have punted yet again on the main long-term fiscal issues involving income tax rates and the future of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Most Democrats want to avoid cuts in these entitlement programs while many Republicans and business executives and other affluent people want to cut them in order to reduce their taxes.

Still, it’s nice to have a breather in Washington’s budget wars. Assuming that the deal goes through, legislators can return to their own private and really big fiscal concern and time-consumer -- raising campaign cash.

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