Congress, White House Have Learned Lessons About Fiscal Fights, Right? Wrong.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Sunday on "NBC" that President Obama will not sign any fiscal legislation that cuts domestic programs to fund defense programs. (William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

U.S. lawmakers and Obama administration officials learned their collective lesson last December when they further obliterated their poll numbers by temporarily plunging the nation off the “Fiscal Cliff,” right?

Wrong.

Democrats and Republicans learned life, including politics and governing, is all about give-and-take, right?

Wrong.

Congress is preparing to peel wheels for Washington-area airports Thursday evening for a month-long vacation. It is increasingly apparent the key players in the “quest” to strike a sequester-addressing “grand bargain” fiscal deal and in avoiding the federal debt limit will spend most of August scattered across these United States…stewing.

From the “In Case You Missed It” file: There’s a simmering war of words going on in Washington about how to deal with the nation’s fiscal status. Again.

It appears very little has been learned since President Obama and congressional Republicans began battling over budgetary issues in 2010.

First came comments made Friday by GOP House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“If the president truly wanted to replace the arbitrary cuts he insisted on, he would work with the House to enact smarter spending cuts and reforms that strengthen our economy.”

When contacted about the speaker’s comments, White House and Office of Management and Budget spokespersons declined to comment.

And why would they? That’s why a president has a Cabinet. Enter Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Obama’s former chief of staff, Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press”:

“To be clear, what the president said and has written to Congress is that they cannot fix the problems created by the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration by cutting domestic priorities in order to fund defense. That’s unacceptable. He won’t sign that. The — you know the across-the-board cuts are hurting our future today.”

(If you saw Lew deliver that message, his body language was very telling.)

Debt-ceiling and “grand bargain” talks are expected to heat up when Congress returns Sept. 9. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that elected officials and their aides have learned very little.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett
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