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“We’re very serious about this,” he said, adding that Democrats can forget about any further tax increases from here on out.

In this month’s “fiscal cliff” negotiations, Mr. Obama managed to squeeze higher taxes for Americans earning more than $400,000 a year, which would extract an estimated $650 billion in additional revenue from the economy over 10 years.

“They got their revenue increases already,” Mr. Ryan told reporters. Taxes are off the table.

The debt limit’s suspension until May 18 is only one of several budget deadlines looming over Congress and the White House. There are automatic budget cuts scheduled to carve $110 billion from the Pentagon and domestic programs on March 1 if Congress does not move to lessen the big bite it will take out of defense spending.

Then there’s the continuing resolution, an autopilot spending mechanism that has kept federal funds flowing to the government through March 26 — even without a budget. The government could shut down without an extension.

There is also the April 15 deadline when the House and Senate must approve their budget blueprints. Mr. Reid’s Senate has routinely ignored the deadline, but this time it may be different: Their paychecks are on the line.

Finally, the debt ceiling suspension will end May 19. Will the Senate approve its budget blueprint before then? Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, says one will be adopted this year, the first since 2009.

Then comes the hardest part when the House and Senate must begin negotiations on a budget that can pass Congress. As things stand, the two chambers are miles apart on spending levels, with House Republicans demanding deeper cuts than Democrats are willing to accept.

Both sides are dug in for trench warfare. Republicans want to reduce the spiraling cost of entitlements and make significant reductions in discretionary spending.

Democrats oppose significant Medicare reforms and are still pushing the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy, a nonstarter in the House, instead of cutting waste-ridden government spending to the bone.

Deadlines will expire and perhaps be extended, while the national debt will swell by $450 billion. Tempers will flare, charges will be hurled. Welcome to democracy in action.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.