In the face of this reality, an implacable fiscal stalemate continues to linger over Congress.

Chess_SmallThe House Budget Committee recently engaged in what has now become a firmly entrenched habit, listening to dire warnings of fiscal calamity from Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf and then showing Americans watching on television that they are in no way able to negotiate a solution to the problem.

Elmendorf was on Capitol Hill this time to present the CBO’s 2012 long-term debt forecast. Under the most likely scenario, in which Congress does not raise taxes or cut spending, the national debt held by the public reaches twice the size of the entire economy by 2037.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) used the occasion to tout his own budget, which partially privatizes Medicare and block grants Medicaid and food stamps in order to slash spending, without raising any taxes. In contrast, ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) touted the Democratic budget alternative, which cuts tax breaks while relying on President Obama’s healthcare reform law to control healthcare spending. He called for a similar mix of taxes and spending cuts.

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Source: Erik Wasson | The Hill