The optimists include leading stakeholders in Washington’s oft-spurned centrist boutique, which may be especially vulnerable to wishful analysis. But two looming events — an automatic $1.2 trillion budget “sequester” hitting defense and domestic spending, and the expiration of all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts — will create pressure for the two parties to strike a compromise.
“The probability of a deal strikes me as pretty high, since no agreement would be such a disaster,” said Peter R. Orszag, President Obama’s former budget director.
Steve Bell, a longtime Senate Republican budget aide now at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the White House and Congress “will not allow the sequester to occur and all the Bush tax cuts to expire. They’re going to be looking at each other on Nov. 20 and saying, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ ”
As for heated exchanges by the candidates and their allies between now and then, Mr. Bell added, “The debate itself is going to prepare the way for a breakthrough.”
KEYWORDS: 2012 POLITICS