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Inouye, the deficit whisperer

Hawaii senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, with Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, on Friday were the first lawmakers named to a bipartisan congressional panel that is tasked with producing a federal deficit reduction plan everyone can agree on — by July.

Inouye is not famous for his budget-slashing ways. The unabashed King of Earmarks acknowledged as much Thursday when commenting on the compromise budget deal later signed by President Barack Obama: "It is a very tough measure that cuts domestic spending more than I am comfortable with." But Inouye also built a career on making deals across the aisle. We wish him and his co-panelists the best of bipartisan luck.

And speaking of bipartisanship …

Compared to the U.S. House Republicans, congressional Democrats were fairly evenly divided over the compromise budget bill that covers spending through this fiscal year: 81 voting yes and 108 voting no. The Hawaii delegation was split down the middle, too — an unusual circumstance.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa flashed thumbs-up on the negotiated compromise, but Hirono, a stalwart among progressive Dems, said H.R. 1473 offered far too little help to struggling families, among other demerits. "Where’s the aloha?" she asked in her floor speech. This bill aside, that’s always been a rare commodity on Capitol Hill.

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