Under Pressure to Reduce Deficit, Congress Tees Up Year-End Spending Spree

The coming year-end spending spree after so much debate over budget deficits shows just how hard it is to stem the government’s flow of red ink.

Lawmakers are poised to spend $120 billion or so to renew a Social Security tax cut that averaged just under $1,000 per household this year. They’re ready to commit up to $50 billion more to continue unemployment benefits to people out of work for more than half a year.

And doctors have no reason to doubt they won’t be rescued, again, from steep cuts in their Medicare payments. Combine that with the tax cuts and jobless benefits, and Congress could add almost $200 billion to the federal ledger this month.

That’s why it’s excruciatingly difficult to cut the deficit, even when the House is influenced by Tea Party forces.

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