Column: Congress back to square one on budget?



Earlier this year, it seemed there might be some hope for Capitol Hill when Congress dealt easily with raising the debt ceiling. But don’t let that single episode fool you.

As President Barack Obama and House Republicans circle each other over the forthcoming budget cuts known as the “sequester,” it’s a reminder that Congress and the White House have a complicated legislative agenda ahead — and that none of the items on it will come easily.

We’ll get to the specifics in a moment, but two things need to be said up front. The first is that despite President Obama’s exhortations in his State of the Union speech, major policy changes will be difficult to make. The Democrats may have increased their margin in the Senate, but the Republicans still control the House. The ideological polarization and apparently incompatible views that marked dealings between the two bodies show no sign of abating. Significant policy initiatives are not impossible, but it’s safest to have subdued expectations.

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