Budget deal on the horizon … or not

posted at 2:41 pm on December 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

No one expects a Grand Bargain this time around on a budget for FY2014 or any other year, and thankfully this time no one bothers to pretend that the possibility exists of finding one.  After the shutdown two months ago, expectations have been scaled back significantly, and now everyone just wants a way to get spending questions settled to the end of the fiscal year and fight the next battle in the midterms.  That provides some common ground and an opportunity to quietly settle matters.

Will that happen? It depends on which news media one reads.  Politico sounds a hopeful note on negotiations between House Budget chair Paul Ryan and his Senate counterpart Patty Murray:

House and Senate negotiators are pushing to finalize a small-scale deal to set spending levels and replace sequester cuts for the next two years, a potential respite in the bitter budget wars consuming Congress.

The two congressional budget leaders — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — are considering a plan that would give relief to some of the domestic and defense programs most burdened by the sequester through 2015 by replacing those cuts with budgetary savings in other areas, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. New revenue through fee increases — not tax hikes — is likely .

The emerging plan also would attempt to find a middle ground between overall federal spending levels sought by Ryan and Murray in their respective budget plans. Under one proposal still under consideration, overall discretionary spending levels would be set in the $1 trillion range for 2014, sources say. That’s an uptick from the $967 billion spending level under the Budget Control Act but lower than the $1.058 trillion level initially sought by Senate Democrats.

If the two sides agree to that approach, the increase in spending would be split about evenly between defense and nondefense spending, sources said. Roughly $80 billion of the sequester cuts would instead be shifted to other programs in the federal budget, but overall deficit reduction would remain unchanged.

On Monday evening, Ryan said little of the talks beyond: “We’re making progress. We’re talking.”

The Hill, on the other hand, offers a dash of cold water and a missed deadline:

Congressional budget conferees on Monday failed to meet a deadline set by appropriators for a top-line budget number.

The blown deadline raises the odds that Congress will need at least a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running after Jan. 15.

Appropriators had called on the House-Senate conference to get a deal by Dec. 2 to ensure they had time to complete detailed spending bills, but the informal deadline was never endorsed by the leaders of the conference.

The disconnect comes from the two different tracks taken in budget negotiations.  The primary track is between Ryan and Murray, and they are taking their time to make sure they have a deal they can sell to their respective sides. It sounds as though they are close to cutting a deal that could pass, giving a little on the details of the sequester but leaving it almost entirely in place.  As long as that flies under the radar — and the holidays are a good time for that — Harry Reid probably won’t balk at it, and John Boehner will get plenty of votes for it in the House with or without Nancy Pelosi.

However, the conferees need to get this deal as quickly as possible.  The deadline mentioned by Erik Wasson at The Hill is one aimed at allowing the normal budget mechanisms to work in both chambers for easier passage of whatever deal Ryan and Murray make. The GOP is nervous about any delay because of an automatic cut to Defense spending of $20 billion in the absence of a change in the sequester.  Democrats might like having that hanging over Republican heads, but they’d like to get their budget set well before the midterm battles make spending an issue again, too.

If Ryan and Murray cut a deal acceptable to leadership in both chambers this week, I’d expect Boehner to put off the House recess scheduled for December 13th to help it pass, and Reid to make similar arrangements in the Senate.  But the pair will need to work quickly.


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Jesus H. Christ, my computer screen just shattered with
this woman’s face on it.

ToddPA on December 3, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I’ll bet that pantsuit hangs itself up after being on her.

ToddPA on December 3, 2013 at 2:47 PM

But the pair will need to work quickly.

All depends on how desperate they are to go home for the holidays.

GarandFan on December 3, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Maybe Lil Ryan could give Obama everything he wants, then rush to the nearest TV camera to rationalize why it just had to be done.

Jeddite on December 3, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Looks like a picture of the old senator from WA and the youthful amnesty shill from “our” side.

anotherJoe on December 3, 2013 at 2:55 PM

How about dusting off the last budget passed under normal order and just going with that. Better idea. Use the last Clinton budget ratios they claimed balanced the budget and cut it down to $750 billion instead.

I am beginning to really dislike Paul Ryan. I see the same squishy spine that John Boehner has.

DanMan on December 3, 2013 at 2:55 PM

My favorite Patty Murray story:
-

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/02/15/sen-patty-murrays-worthless-stimulus-earmark/

diogenes on December 3, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Ryan has turned into a real pantywaste, ever since he teamed up with Romney and now, Boehner!

tomshup on December 3, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Be the tortoise. No shutdown. Win the race.

Carnac on December 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Again, folks, the (D)s in the Senate and President Obama won’t pass a budget in order to continue annual “stimulus” spending that was added to the baseline. It won’t stop until a budget is passed.
 
We’re at around $5 trillion since Obama took office, btw. That’s trillion with a “T”.

rogerb on December 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

The GOP is nervous about any delay because of an automatic cut to Defense spending of $20 billion in the absence of a change in the sequester. Democrats might like having that hanging over Republican heads, but they’d like to get their budget set well before the midterm battles make spending an issue again, too.

It’s strange no one ever questions Democrats’ willingness to use drastic defense cuts as a bargaining chip whenever they negotiate with Republicans. It’s their one big play every time: when all else fails, hold national security as a hostage.

I say take that play away from them once and for all. If they threaten to cut or eliminate vital aspects of our national defense, then call them on it and let those cuts happen. It’s a huge risk, particularly when we’re talking about our nuclear deterrent, but I see no other way. The Democrats simply wouldn’t believe Republicans would allow the sequester to happen because of the deletrious effect mandated sequester cuts would have on military preparedness, but they did allow it and it did happen. Now, the GOP needs to follow through if only to drive the point home: no more hostages. Negotiate in good faith or don’t negotiate at all. Enough is enough.

troyriser_gopftw on December 3, 2013 at 3:11 PM

All I ask for is a real no kidding budget…without the stupidity of the sequester please!! Go elimante the department of education or something, there are plenty of things that we could get rid of and not keep that stuipd thing around.

falcaner on December 3, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Negotiate in good faith or don’t negotiate at all. Enough is enough.

troyriser_gopftw on December 3, 2013 at 3:11 PM

yep, like rogerb says our baseline is now around $5 trillion with revenues at a record high somewhere around $3 trillion isn’t it? If Ryan represents the fiscal sanity element of the GOP they are as stoopid as the dems.

DanMan on December 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I wonder what a liberal Senator from Washington and a TARP enthusiast can come up with.

Lionheart on December 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Ryan should tread very carefully. Any deals with the Democrats right now are mostly going to be terrible.

MTF on December 3, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Ryan has turned into a real pantywaste, ever since he teamed up with Romney and now, Boehner!

tomshup on December 3, 2013 at 3:00 PM

add Gutierrez your list of Ryan’s best buddies.

Wigglesworth on December 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

1) The Institutional Republicans have already surrendered. “This is not the battle to fight, right now. Next time for sure.

2) The mid-term elections are now “where we can fight.

3) See the history of past battles in the last 10 years that were “where we can fight“.

4) Note that at the same time, the Institutional Republicans have declared that they will stop the Conservatives and TEA Party this election cycle. The battle against Conservatives and the TEA Party is the one thing they will consistently fight, 24-7-365.

5) 3 & 4 do not bode well for 2.

Subotai Bahadur

Subotai Bahadur on December 3, 2013 at 3:46 PM

The Democrats simply wouldn’t believe Republicans would allow the sequester to happen because of the deletrious effect mandated sequester cuts would have on military preparedness, but they did allow it and it did happen. Now, the GOP needs to follow through if only to drive the point home: no more hostages. Negotiate in good faith or don’t negotiate at all. Enough is enough.

troyriser_gopftw on December 3, 2013 at 3:11 PM

The problem you have with that is EVENTUALY you have to go back and fix everything that you broke in order to get there and its twice as expensive. Take a look around the world. It is getting a lot worse not better, even the Libtards can see that at this point. hangstinging our defense when we need it is not a good idea.

falcaner on December 3, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Haste makes Waste – which in government work is a bonus (right?).

Plan in Haste, Repent in Leisure –
and leisure is what Ms. Murray deserves (a lifetime of it).

Another Drew on December 3, 2013 at 3:57 PM

How about they just PUBLISH and PASS a friggin’ BUDGET for once!

D A M N it!

Missilengr on December 3, 2013 at 4:03 PM

An amazing thing happens when you have to WRITE THINGS DOWN and sign it … the TRUTH comes out (eventually).

Missilengr on December 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Republicans eye backup plan as budget talks intensify

By David Lawder and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 3, 2013 3:51pm EST
**************************************

(Reuters) – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives might seek a vote next week on a short-term government funding measure as a backup plan in case budget negotiators fail to reach a deal by a December 13 deadline, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

The move would be aimed at shoring up consumer confidence during the Christmas shopping season. It would demonstrate Republicans intend to fund the government beyond a January 15 deadline, rather than resort to the tactics they employed in October that led to the closing of many federal agencies.

“I don’t think anybody wants to be worried about a government shutdown over Christmas,” said Republican Representative Blake Farenthold, who in mid-October voted against a deal to end the 16-day government shutdown.
(More….)
=============

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/us-usa-fiscal-idUSBRE9B214420131203?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=574655

canopfor on December 3, 2013 at 4:28 PM

“…hangstinging [hamstringing] our defense when we need it is not a good idea.”

falcaner on December 3, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I didn’t say it was a good idea, and made it a point to mention the enormous risk entailed by doing it. However, it is the least terrible of an array of even more terrible choices. In the best of worlds, the Democrats would recognize that gutting national defense expenditures constitutes a gross dereliction of duty. But they don’t. Thus, they use it as a bargaining chip again and again, mainly to protect entitlements, which have largely become gigantic payoffs to Democratic Party constituencies.

We cannot reduce runaway spending unless we are willing to top or reduce entitlement spending. We cannot stop or reduce entitlement spending unless we are willing to dramatically cut defense spending; i.e., sacrifice the hostage.

If we don’t, the result is the same. A bankrupt nation cannot defend itself, not for long.

troyriser_gopftw on December 3, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Q: Why is my bum starting to ache again?
A: It must be another grand bargain in the making.

Mr. Arrogant on December 3, 2013 at 6:42 PM

In short, we’re getting another $400 billion tax hike for 2014 on top of the over-$3 trillion already being sucked into the black hole that is DC.

Steve Eggleston on December 3, 2013 at 6:56 PM

One flabby. One fit.

Contrasts!

Sherman1864 on December 3, 2013 at 8:37 PM