Observing the correlation of forces in this city and the intensity of conviction in the base of each party, the outcome of the ongoing fiscal fight between Barack Obama and the Tea Party Republicans seems preordained.
Deadlock. There will be no big jobs-for-taxes deal. The can will be kicked down the road into the next administration.
A second truth is emerging. When the cutting comes, as it shall, the Pentagon will be first to ascend the scaffold.
Why so? Consider.
The Republican House cannot agree to tax increases without risking retribution from the base and repudiation by its presidential candidates. All have pledged to oppose even a dollar in tax hikes for 10 dollars in spending cuts.
For his part, Obama has refused to lay out any significant cuts in the big Democratic entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare.
As for the hundreds of billions in Great Society spending for Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits, aid to education, Pell grants and housing subsidies, neither Harry Reid's Senate nor Obama, in trouble with his African-American base, will permit significant cuts.