I think we all knew this was coming once the Thanksgiving break was over, but I’ll confess that I didn’t see it coming this quickly. A budget deal is allegedly in the works, and if recent history is anything to go by, budget hawks have more than a little reason to be concerned. Keep in mind that this is an early report with less than clear sources, but Brad Plumer is reporting at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog that Paul Ryan and Patty Murray are doing a dance around the edge of the drain which could result in a compromise.
So… what’ve ya got? (Emphasis mine)
It’s budget time again: Lawmakers from the House and Senate are trying to nail down an agreement to keep the government funded before they leave for the holidays on Dec. 13. And, while nothing’s final just yet, a deal to avert another shutdown may be in reach.
At the moment, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray are discussing a proposal to boost discretionary spending modestly in the next two years, by providing government agencies with partial relief from the automatic sequestration budget cuts.
Under current law, discretionary spending is set to fall from $986 billion this year to $967 billion in 2014. The proposed deal would raise that to somewhere around $1 trillion in 2014. The extra money would be split evenly between defense and non-defense programs.
Okay… let’s stop the train right here for a moment, shall we? If the current spending is $986B and the sequestration (which conservatives are fine with but progressives claim is destroying America) is supposed to cut it to $967B (a pittance of a cut, but a cut nonetheless), wouldn’t a compromise result in a number somewhere between those two figures? How did we get to “somewhere around $1 trillion” from there?
Well, I assume that we’re getting something in exchange for that, right? (Emphasis, again, mine)
In exchange, the deal would add other spending cuts further down the road and could raise new revenues by increasing some user fees. The goal is to keep the overall deficit unchanged over the next 10 years.
Did you say, further down the road? I’m sorry to say, I think we’ve seen this cartoon before.
And we’ll balance it all by adding “some user fees” to the mix. Possible topics include, “Revenue from auctioning off broadband spectrum or higher fees on airport security.” Again – and I hate to be a nitpicker here – didn’t we just give up a really big tax increase not that long ago? Wasn’t the part about “more cuts later on down the road” supposed to be happening about now? Or is the road just longer than we thought?
The article goes on to point out that the expiration of extended unemployment benefits is also “on the table” though not settled on yet. For those of you who have a better direct line to Congressman Ryan’s office than I do, perhaps you could ask precisely what part of this represents a “compromise” in terms of the two parties at the table. Yes, I understand that the Democrats still hold the White House and the upper chamber in terms of who has to approve the deal, but if this is what it looks like should the word “compromise” really be in play?
Again.. this isn’t final by any means. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.