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Mon Mar 3, 2014, 08:32 AM

Big or small, spending-cut efforts hit roadblocks

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_BUDGET_ELUSIVE_CUTS?SITE=VANOV&SECTION=BUSINESS&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Big or small, spending-cut efforts hit roadblocks
By CHARLES BABINGTON and ANDREW TAYLOR
Associated Press
Mar 3, 3:52 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The budget gurus in Congress have failed for years to find a grand bargain to reduce the government's long-term debt, so this year they decided to go small. Just 1 percentage point would be shaved from the annual cost-of-living increase in military pensions for veterans under age 62.

That strategy failed, too. Congress promptly caved in to pressure from the powerful veterans lobby and voted last month to restore the bigger pension increases it had cut just two months earlier. It didn't matter that the Pentagon itself called the reduction fair and necessary.

Advocates of deficit reduction are discouraged. They say they fear Congress' reversal on military pensions will lead to unraveling other recent spending cuts.

"It's tough to overstate how devastating that was," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of just three senators who voted to keep the pension reduction in place. "It's back to the drawing board, because that was a big blow."

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