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Pioneer Editorial: Two weeks of more bickering

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

After much haranguing and posturing, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday night sent to President Barack Obama, and he signed into law, a measure to keep the federal government funded and running.

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But only for two weeks.

The federal government is operating under what is called a continuing resolution for fiscal 2011, meaning government continues on at 2010 spending levels because Congress can't agree upon a new budget. But the continuing resolution has an ending date, after which the federal government shuts down for lack of spending authority.

That deadline came this week unless Congress acted to extend it. Congress, with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats in charge of the Senate, can't seem to agree on anything. Deep philosophical differences divide the Republicans and Democrats, a chasm that has prevented agreement on major issues for years.

Our confidence in Congress and the White House in finding agreement to fund the government to Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year, in two weeks' time is extremely low.

Republicans took the upper hand Wednesday, winning $4 billion in cuts in the new two-week budget bill. But that won't be enough as both sides meet to work on the rest of the budget.

Democrats and Republicans need to roll up their sleeves and make serious decisions on spending that include Social Security and Medicare reforms to ensure their future stability. Our troops need to be well equipped, but overall defense spending needs to be trimmed. So does domestic spending. But there may also be a need for raising revenue, but carefully.

Raise taxes too high, and the economy collapses. Cut spending too deep and trigger another economic collapse. Either way, the American economy loses.

Will Congress and the hite House figure all this out in two weeks, after they haven't even come close in months? We doubt it. In fact, Republicans are stalling on when next to meet, despite a two-week deadline.

Instead, Congress should just pass another continuing resolution to take the federal government to Oct. 1, without any gimmicks, and then seriously concentrate on the questions we raised for the 2012 federal budget. The president has laid out his budget; now it is time for Republicans and Democrats to lay out their budgets and begin negotiating.

The goal should be to pass the buck no more, after slogging government along to Oct. 1, and start the new fiscal year with a true budget in place that begins to tackle the huge federal debt that continues to mount.

The American people want solutions, not politicking, but we fear that's all that will happen in the next two weeks when again the federal government faces shutdown deadline.

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