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MS: Well, this is a difficult one, because my bet is that…if you negotiate, it will almost certainly come out like this. The tax hikes will be real, and all the spending cuts will be bookkeeping tricks that in the end will mean nothing.

This is very true. They can agree to cut spending in *future* fiscal years all they want, but that accomplishes nothing. If they cut "mandatory spending" (such as entitlements), which doesn't require future Congresses to approve spending, that's one thing, but future Congresses are not legally obligated in any way to cut future "discretionary spending." Negotiating future discretionary spending is a waste of time.

All I care about is what they do to mandatory spending and *this* year's discretionary spending. The rest can be safely ignored as irrelevant.
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