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So Republicans are feeling the public (and private) opinion pressure enough to pretend to moderate the effects of the sequester (when really, they're just trying to save their largest campaign contributors). Yet despite their vulnerability, Obama is once again offering up Social Security and Medicare as a sacrifice:
(Reuters) - Congressional Republicans announced a plan on Monday to avoid a government shutdown later this month, seeking to calm the waters after months of budget fights that ended in a failure last week to halt damaging spending cuts.
Just three days into the $85 billion of automatic "sequester" cuts, Republicans in the House of Representatives turned their attention to the next fiscal deadline: the March 27 expiration of funding for government agencies and programs.
[...] After bruising encounters last year over the fiscal cliff of broad tax increases and spending cuts, and now sequestration, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have lost some of their appetite - at least temporarily - for more confrontation and want to get through March without having to fight about how to keep government funded.
The bill gives some relief to the Defense Department, military construction and the Veterans Administration, but Democrats complained that it does not do enough to help domestic programs also hit by the sequester cuts that started Friday.
Sounding conciliatory, President Barack Obama said he was not giving up on trying to work with Republicans to reduce the deficit.
"I will continue to seek out partners on the other side of the aisle so that we can create the kind of balanced approach of spending cuts, revenues, entitlement reform that everybody knows is the right way to do things," he said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
In phone calls with lawmakers at the weekend, Obama raised anew the issue of cutting entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security as a way out of the budget cuts. Reforming the social safety net is a pet project of Republicans.
Uh, not just the Republicans. The Republicans are worried, yet instead of kicking them when they're down, and putting the squeeze on to get additional tax revenue, Obama offers up the safety net as an enticement. I'm not surprised, of course. But I'm still furious.