Just when all seems lost, it appears that there may yet be hope that Budget negotiators could reach a deal to replace a portion of sequestration. Any potential deal would be small in comparison to the $17.1 trillion national debt, potentially with proposals to replace one year of sequestration cuts — worth $110 billion — or something smaller, with more targeted cuts.
While the outlines of the agreement are certainly far from solid, they could include some mandatory savings, along with revenue, but no new taxes. Potential revenue raisers being discussed include increased Transportation Security Administration fees and money generated from wireless spectrum sales. As an extra bargaining chip, Republicans would consider including an extension of extended unemployment benefits, which expire on December 28th.
This all seems like a small glimmer of hope that the next round of sequestration will be avoided, and maybe topline budget numbers for FY2014 and FY2015 would be agreed to. This would give some certainty – or mock regular order – at least through next years mid-term elections.