Republicans Work Against Deadline To Pass Budget; Obamacare Hopes Hang In Balance

Congressional Republicans are likely to miss an April 15 deadline the law sets for passing a unified budget, with lawmakers set to return from a two-week break on April 13, with plenty of differences still to hash out between the House and Senate over everything from the size of spending cuts to revamping Medicare.

A unified budget would be Congress‘ first since 2009 — a plan that helped ease passage of Obamacare — and Republicans hope this one will create a path to repealing that same law, as well as eliminating annual deficits within a decade.

Analysts said reaching a final deal between House and Senate Republicans, who control both chambers, should be relatively easy, both because of the number of areas where they agree, and because a final deal is necessary for Congress to have a chance to use “reconciliation,” which is the budget tool that would help repeal Obamacare while sidestepping a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

Both chambers call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the official name of President Obama’s health law, though the plans keep the revenue from Obamacare tax increases. Both plans also pump $96 billion into war spending as a gimmick to boost the Pentagon budget without breaking the budget caps Congress and Mr. Obama agreed to several years ago.

Republicans have to march warily on entitlements if they want to take the White House and enact real reform though. Bold moves to change Medicare or replace Obamacare will open them up to attacks from their Democratic rivals in the runup to the 2016 elections, imperiling their chances of winning the very elections that allow them to carry out their agenda, according to GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

“We have a chicken-and-egg problem,” he said.

For now, GOP budget aides are quick to highlight similarities instead of differences, saying that while work is in its early stages, they’re mindful of the mid-April deadline.

Read more from Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times

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Analysis & Political Strategy