It didn’t take long for conservative organizations and some conservatives in Congress to criticize the budget agreement hammered out between negotiators led by the House and Senate Budget Committee chairs.
In fact, criticism from Americans for Prosperity and Heritage Action for America began before details of what is clearly a short-term compromise were outlined Tuesday.
We hope enough members of both houses of Congress tune out the naysayers — a group that includes Kansas 1st District Rep. Tim Huelskamp — and take a good look at what Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have come up with.
Not that it’s perfect. Far from it. House Speaker John Boehner had it about right when he called it a “modest step forward.”
That alone would mark a productive change of direction for Congress, which, riven by bitter partisanship, has found agreement on almost anything difficult. If the best this deal does is prevent the government from “lurching from crisis to crisis,” as the two chief negotiators said Tuesday it would do, it would constitute real progress.
The framework they set up would set spending caps for the next two years; $1.012 trillion in fiscal year 2014 and $1.014 in FY 2015. The $85 billion package would ease $65 billion in sequestration cuts — $45 billion in FY 2014 and $20 billion the next year. The money would be split evenly between military and non-defense discretionary spending programs. The deal calls for another $20 billion in deficit reduction apart from sequestration.
As is the case with compromise, both parties fell short of key goals. Democrats didn’t get any new taxes — though airline and certain other fees would be raised — and changes that Republicans had sought in Social Security and Medicare were not part of the deal.
What this agreement can do, if it becomes law, is prevent another government shutdown on Jan. 15, return some degree of normalcy to the budget process and allay the concerns of financial markets. It also would forestall the sorts of impasses that result in shutdowns, and possibly even improve the public’s view of Congress. Those outcomes are all good for America.
Rep. Ryan, a conservative who helped negotiate the compromise, said he is proud of it. “It reduces the deficit — without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way (than the sequester). It’s a firm step in the right direction.”