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Obama urges a budget without brinkmanship. But can Congress stop the insanity?

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“We don’t believe across-the-board spending cuts are a wise way to control spending in this town,” said Rep. Tom Price (R) of Georgia, a leading House conservative, “but if it’s the only way it will happen then that’s the way it will have to happen.”

While Democrats are reportedly constructing a sequester offset of alternative cuts, they will almost certainly include well-worn Democratic hobbyhorses, like ending special tax preferences for hedge fund managers and the oil industry, that are nonstarters for the GOP.

“The majority is going to offer a proposal. I anticipate that we will have an alternative proposal. That, however, doesn't lead to a solution. It just leads to a couple of votes,” said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky on Tuesday.

Repeat that same steely standoff once more with the potential of a government shutdown and once again with the fear of a default on the nation’s debt and, voila, Washington could conceivably do more damage to the economy in 2013 than it did in the summer of 2011, when a debt ceiling showdown alone tanked US markets, crashed consumer confidence, and punished economic activity.

How could Washington break the madness? By doing what the president endorsed at the State of the Union (and what House Republicans have long ripped Senate Democrats for avoiding): passing a budget and sticking to the budget path.

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