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Debt-limit talks still full of drama, but may be nothing BUT theater

Negotiations on lifting the federal debt ceiling are by all accounts moving along, though with enough up in the air to keep the drama going.

It now looks like Republicans may get some of the fiscal restraint they demand in exchange for allowing Uncle Sam to go deeper in debt (sorry, future generations!).

The nascent deal would OK new borrowing for two years, kicking the next showdown over the limit to the next Congress and (we hope) president.

The GOP (and the voters) gets some kind of freeze on federal discretionary spending, leaving Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements untouched.

Still under discussion is the baseline for the freeze (somewhere between this year’s outlays and last year’s), as well as how much defense and veterans’ outlays get frozen too.

Since House Republicans can already refuse to OK higher spending, this is far less of a White House concession than the screams from the left would have you believe.

On the side, the deal would slash some of the $80 billion (over a decade) in new cash for the IRS passed by the last, Dem-run Congress. Yet the cut may be as little as $10 billion, which is a start but less than you’d expect, given all the news suggesting the agency is now deeply weaponized to favor Democrats — especially the Biden clan.

Kevin McCarthy

And a major sticking point remains the GOP push to impose modest requirements that able-bodied adults work to qualify for food stamps (SNAP) and/or Medicaid.

It’s amazing progressives still oppose this: Work rules were central to the landmark 1996 welfare reform, which succeeded wildly in reducing poverty — the reverse of the mass suffering lefties predicted back then.

Plus, work requirements are common across the rest of the developed world, even in Europe’s welfare states. They’re just common sense.

Worst of all are some suggestions that the “freeze” will be a fake — that the deal allows for accounting tricks so that few if any outlays actually get cut: E.g, the money pulled from the IRS will still get spent, but on other programs Dems love.

All the drama over what should be straightforward (if brutal) negotiations is bad enough. If the whole thing turns out to be nothing but theater, the voters should throw all these bums out.