Deal postpones partisanship
On Wednesday it was official: both the Senate and the House of Representatives actually had a budget to put on President Obama’s desk. The Murray-Ryan plan (named after Sen. Patty Murray [D-Wash.] and Rep. Paul Ryan [R-Wisc.]) has set spending limits for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, which means that another potential fiscal fight has been averted for now.
The deal would set discretionary spending limits at a bit over $1 trillion in each of the fiscal years and, in theory, would lessen the deficit and provide some relief from the repugnant cuts put in place by sequestration. It would help fund the Transportation Security Agency (through fee increases paid by fliers, not airports), and it would also provide funds for programs like Head Start and Meals on Wheels.
It wasn’t just bipartisan in terms of support, but also in opposition. Democrats didn’t like that the deal does absolutely nothing with unemployment benefits, which are set to expire. Conservative Republicans don’t like that it affects the benefits of military retirees under 62, and because it doesn’t decrease spending.
But while there may be some praise to go around, it should be short lived. The deal doesn’t actually allocate funds, it just says how much the government can spend. There’s potential for a fight there. The debt ceiling is set to expire again in February 2015, which means another fight may be looming there too.
And don’t forget about the election years. 2014 is a mid-term election year, and the general election comes after FY 2015 expires. This means that any action revolving around another budget, or really anything at all, will affect one’s standing at the polls. And that can lead to squabbling, inaction, and myopic kicking the can down the road-all things that Americans were sick of before Murray-Ryan and will be sick of after.
Congressmen and Senators haven’t completely put aside partisanship to pass this temporary budget. No, they’ve only postponed it, a partisan fight is inevitable.
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