Senate Showdown Soap Opera Slumps

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It was a "day of posturing, finger-pointing and backroom wrangling" that resulted in the resolution of … nothing.

Yes, it was just another dramatic Monday in the Senate.

Unfortunately, for many a C-SPAN watcher, yesterday's "long-awaited Senate showdown," over a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's troop increase in Iraq, as the Washington Post described it, was over before it started. Leaders on both sides of the aisle could not agree on which nonbinding resolutions would be debated and voted upon.

"Democrats needed 60 votes to begin debating the resolution opposing the troop increase but could muster only 49. All three Republican co-sponsors of the resolution opposed it in the 49-47 vote," explains USA Today.

And in traditionally mature Congressional behavior, the impasse "left each party blaming the other" for the situation, writes the New York Times.

Sound bite of the day came from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "You can run, but you can't hide," he said. "We are going to debate Iraq."

His speechwriter will get cupcakes this afternoon, since every major paper picked up that quote.

Fear not, this doesn't mean the saga is over, as "Senate leaders indicated that they would continue to negotiate over ways to restart the debate," writes the NYT.

Yee Haw. A Budget Showdown.

And another saga may yet be beginning.

Indeed, "no amount of optimism is expected to head off what is likely to be a continuing series of conflicts in coming months between the White House and lawmakers" on all kinds of elements included in the President's $2.9 trillion budget.

The big "flash points" between the branches, according to the Wall Street Journal -- taxes and the war in Iraq.

Bush wants to balance the budget without raising taxes, and wants to extend existing tax cuts. Democrats want to scale them back.

As for Iraq, the budget calls for increased Defense spending, including for the Iraq war. House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) "a strong ally of the military," called the request for defense "staggering," writes the Journal.

The Post notes that the budget plan also indicated that Bush "would attempt to squeeze spending on health care, education, housing and other domestic programs important to the Democratic majority for the duration of his term."

Predictably, "the sharp divide seemed to shatter the spirit of bipartisanship that both parties had cultivated since the Democrats captured control of Congress in November's elections," writes the LA Times.

Nonetheless, the New York Times explains that if all Bush's budget proposals are agreed upon, his "economic assumptions panned out," and the cost of the war was reduced "and then went away in coming years," the budget would indeed reduce the deficit from $244 billion this year to $239 billion next year. By 2012, there would be a $61 billion surplus.

The Trials Of Young Type-A Personalities

As the L.A. Times' front page takes a peek at the "be-all and end-all" entrance exam game that accompanies admission to some of California's private middle and high schools (yes, that is as scary as it sounds,) the Washington Post has a different perspective.

It's a look at how a few D.C. area schools are attempting to thwart stress-induced coronaries among their students.

Yes, even in the "advanced placement-fueled arms race," parents are urging students to "to take honors instead of AP courses, instituting homework-free weekends and changing class schedules to give students time to breathe and regroup between subjects."

One school offers yoga.

That's because, as one high school junior put it: "It's like our educational system is eating us alive."

New approaches to reducing that stress are designed to "change the atmosphere so that people understand it's better to have a well-balanced student going to a 'good fit' college, as opposed to a neurotic going to an Ivy League school," said one school counselor.

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