If all goes accordingly, a government shutdown will be averted yet again this week.
A new stopgap measure that would cut $6 billion in spending and fund the government through April 8 is gaining bipartisan support and likely to pass by Friday when the current funding measure expires.
Although a shutdown is unlikely, President Obama is growing impatient with Congress. "We can't keep on running the government based on two-week extension," he said Friday Politico reports. "That's irresponsible."
Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Columbia University, agrees, but says President Obama is part of the problem, too, because of his failure to lead on budget issues.
"Washington is unrealistic. They are not talking about real things," like military spending and entitlement programs, he tells Aaron in the accompanying clip. Instead, Congress and President Obama seem set on cutting civilian discretionary spending, including on education, that directly impacts mainstream America.
Sachs goes on to say that our fiscal house would be in much better shape had Congress not extended the Bush tax cuts at the end of last year. "All the politicians in Washington have one strategy, don't say 'taxes' at all," he says. "But if you know the budget if you really know the numbers, you know that without taxes at least at the top, there is not even a chance of one in a million of getting anywhere close to a responsible budget."
So, why is Congress not talking about the biggest line items and getting serious about taxes?
Sachs says it's all got to do with the road to 2012.
"What they are doing is taking cuts out of the hide of the poorest people in this country….[leaving] those who have massive wealth completely unscathed," he says. "It is all a game for next year's campaign financing: In other words, don't touch the big boys, they got to pay for your campaign."
America in Decline
"There is such a disconnect between what the American people say, and what Washington does, you wonder if this is a democracy," Sachs says. "The American people say 'get out of Afghanistan, stop wasting money on the military, raise taxes on the rich and [opt for a] public option on health care.' Of course, the interests, the powers that be oppose all of that."
If questioning the soundness of democracy were not enough, he has an even more discerning assessment on the country's trajectory.
"I think we are in a decline because our political class is so dishonest right now and so disconnected from American values that we are not finding a way forward," says Sachs. "In the long-term America will continue in decline as long as we play these games."
- President Obama