In recent years the antics in Congress — by Republicans and Democrats alike — have been juvenile and selfish. The Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate have refused to compromise on anything of importance, threatening to take their ball and go home like a spoiled brat who doesn’t get his way.
It’s been frustrating for the nation as it has created gridlock in the federal government, resulting in crisis after crisis that have undermined the economy and the public’s confidence in Congress.
As a result, the bipartisan budget compromise hammered out this month between Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is a big deal even though it does relatively little over the long term.
The compromise is important because it’s a compromise.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats are thrilled, but — assuming it gets final approval this week in the Senate — the two-year budget is something both sides can collectively tolerate.
The far right and far left are angry, but the leadership in Congress isn’t bowing this time.
It’s a solid start to getting deficit spending under control and reducing the national debt.
“We, (House Budget) Chairman Paul Ryan and I, agreed from the start that it was important for us to put together certainty for this country,” Murray said in a recent interview on National Public Radio. “We worked hard to get a two-year deal, which I think is a great step forward. But neither one of us got everything we wanted and we were able to keep the other person from getting some of the big things they wanted. And that’s called compromise. It’s called working within a divided government in the best way you can to make sure that our country is managed in a responsible way.”
The deal increases discretionary federal spending on items such as medical research, the Head Start program and military training by about 4 percent. It does not raise taxes but it does increase fees such as the airport security fee.
The result is an overall anticipated $23 billion reduction (0.36 percent) in deficit spending. In short, it’s the budget equivalent of treading water.
The more important result is that this agreement would remove the chance of another lapse of discretionary funding that would force another partial shutdown of federal government.
To be clear, this deal represents mere baby steps. Yet, moving forward is a pleasant surprise from members of Congress who have been unwilling to compromise on budget matter for years.