WASHINGTON -- Just four years ago, cutting deficits and controlling the nation's debt were a powerful political combination that propelled Republicans to control of the House of Representatives and fueled the budget fights that ensued.
Today, they are an afterthought.
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As a result, a distinctly new attitude will greet President Barack Obama's latest budget plan when he submits it early next month.
The nation's annual deficit is declining. Lawmakers are fatigued by their budget battles, and the public has shifted its anger to issues like health care and their own personal well-being.
The shift is dictating 2014 political strategy. Republicans are focusing on Obama's health care law and have, for now, abandoned the brinkmanship that defined budget negotiations for the past three years.