Deal or No Deal? 

Vice President Joe Biden made waves last night when he emerged from budget talks at the U.S. Capitol and told reporters, “I think we’re making good progress. We’re all working off the same number now, $73 billion.” He went on to say, according to the White House transcript, “Obviously, there’s a difference in the composition of that number -- what’s included, what’s not included.  It’s going to be a thorough negotiation.  We’re getting back -- we got to roll up our sleeves.”

By $73 billion, he really means $33 billion, as the higher figure compares the cuts to President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal that was never actually adopted. So it would actually be slightly more than half the $61 billion passed by the House GOP.

Either way, Republicans have down played Biden’s comments. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R- Oh., told National Review that, “There is no deal until everything is settled — spending cuts and policy restrictions. The Vice President simply hasn’t been at the table.” And a spokesman for Rep. Eric Cantor, R- Va., declined to respond directly to Biden, telling me that the Majority Leader wasn’t in the room -- but he added that Cantor has been told there is no deal.

So who to believe? To quote Alec Baldwin’s character in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, “one thing counts in this world: get them to sign on the line which is dotted.” Which is to say, I won’t believe statements from either side about how close they are to a deal until one gets officially struck, passes both chambers, and is inked by Obama. This is particularly true if there’s been no agreement on the thornier issues – defunding Planned Parenthood, the health care law, and partially defunding the EPA so it can’t regulate carbon emissions. As I noted earlier this week, those side amendments are much more difficult to resolve than agreeing on a dollar figure of budget cuts.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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