Budget negotiators in the U.S. Congress have reached a two-year agreement aimed at avoiding a government shutdown on January 15 and setting federal government spending levels through October 1, 2015.
While it might seem like a step in the right direction, it is hard not to be a little cynical about the deal. Even as a first symbolic step toward a real bipartisan compromise, the fine print reveals some horrors for the unemployed. (I'll talk about that at a later date.) What's more interesting is the underlying motive for the Republican party to offer any deal at all.
This budget deal, hammered out by Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray, and Republican Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, may be bipartisan but it is hard to see why anybody would claim it was progress. (One site actually hailed it as "a new era of cooperation." Where have these people been the last five years, I wonder!)
Congressional negotiators reached a modest budget agreement Tuesday to restore about $65 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon, with votes expected in both houses by week's end.
Now, sixty-five billion might seem like a large figure to you and me but when it comes to government spending it is practically nothing. A superpower can spend that money much faster than you can blow your nose.
In fact, these were spending cuts to the budget which have now been restored. So count that as a step back from the reducing government spending. Shrinking big government, (except when it came to the military) has been the rallying cry of the Republicans since Reagan's day.
Reducing government spending was supposed to be what the last budget bust-up in Washington was all about. Remember that shutdown thingy?
And that turned out to be a political disaster for Congress, but especially for the Republicans. So it is no surprise that somebody in the party would be happy to avoid a repeat of that disgrace next January.
Apparently the leader of the House John Boehner-who, in the end, just wants to be loved, sent Pretty-boy Ryan into the thick of the negotiations. It was probably a wise but cynical move on his part.
Clearly the Tea Party will take one look at this and begin frothing at the mouth.
Delusions over Tea Time
Delusions over Tea Time
Despite the damage done to the Republican party in October, threats of shutting down government -basically holding the government hostage-was the only weapon that the Tea Party minority had. This deal effectively takes that loaded pistol out of the hands of the petulant baby.
And this baby has a nasty disposition and has some old Republicans scared for their political lives.