Stan Collender seems to make the most important point for today’s debate: Under current law, if Congress takes no action on a rescission proposed by the president, the spending cuts are considered to be disapproved—and the money is supposed to be spent. Under the Obama proposal, if Congress doesn’t act within the required time, the proposed rescission would be considered to be approved—and the money would not be spent.

Sure, that may be deeper than most readers want to go. But there ought to be some middle ground, between lessons in legislative history and political jabs over whether the proposal has a chance of passing—or working.

As I’ve said before, our political leaders aren’t out there very much, explaining the real spending tradeoffs the country faces. And the press could be asking a lot more about those choices.

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at holly.yeager@gmail.com.