Is a Grand Bargain on Budget Really Possible?

Mergers and Acquisitions

Republican Jim Nussle, the director of the Office of Budget and Management during the administration of the George W. Bush, and Steven Rattner, former Treasury official for the Obama administration, had words to say last week regarding budget negotiations in Washington. According to CNBC, both are hopeful of this “grand bargain” everyone else — Including Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) — seems to think will be too elusive. “I’m assuming that [a Grand Bargain] probably won’t happen because it’s been tried so many times with all the different gimmicks,” said McCain, jokingly rattling off different types of committees that have been tried.

Nussle noted that Republicans and Democrats “don’t know each other, they’ve never talked to one another,” and suggested they learn to converse on equal ground again, perhaps over “pizza,” before diving into the countries finances. Nussle did echo Senator McCain in one sentiment though — McCain suggested that Congress split, with the House passing a budget and the Senate passing a budget, then confer on the two to produce a cooperative plan.

According to CNBC, Nussle agreed that those working on budgets needed to come equipt with their own plan — “There is no deal until there’s a deal on everything,” he said. Rattner had doubts though, saying, “There’s no enforcing mechanism. There’s no super committee. There’s no sequestration [spending cuts] on the back end. You got nothing to make these guys do it.” He also struck health care off the table as a reasonable bargaining chip. “The American people have [also] said ‘no mas’ to trying to get rid of Obamacare through the back door,” said Rattner, though he did believe Obama was “totally capable” of negotiations with Republicans. Only three months hang between Congress and the next default threat and government shutdown, and though the pair may be like-minded on a grand bargain, they seem to have very different ideas about what such a bargain would entail.

Rattner criticized present cuts, arguing for the closure of tax code loopholes to help with the government budget deficit. “Forget the question about what you think the deficit should be. If you simply look within spending, our priorities are all completely misguided,” he said.

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