Talks to head off shutdown to begin … maybe

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are considered two moderate voices within their respective parties.

They now chair an ad hoc collection of senators called the “Common Sense Caucus.” Their mission is to head off another federal government partial shutdown.

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/commonsense-caucus-could-stave-off-second-shutdown-100435.html?hp=t1

Will they succeed? Well, their only chance to succeed will occur if the real negotiators fail to do their job. They have until Dec. 13 to produce a deal to fund the government. That group is led by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. It comprises equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, as charged in the deal that ended the first government shutdown in October.

Personally, I’m not holding my breath for anything substantive. I’m betting they’ll nibble around the edges of the larger issue — which must include a long-term tax increase along with serious budget cuts in programs no one wants to cut, such as Medicare.

Heck, I’m not even holding out for any serious hope Congress can avoid another shutdown.

We’ve seen this act many times already. Everyone says they want to work together. Then they quarrel and bicker, taking the nation to the brink of fiscal collapse.

Collins and Manchin are reasonable folks. So are Murray and Ryan. Among the four of them, can’t they come up with a reasonable long-term solution to this ridiculous spectacle?

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