Was the Budget Deal a good Deal for the American Public: Are lawmakers worthy of praise for passing a Budget?
The long awaited Budget Deal has finally passed out of both Houses of Congress. But what has really happened. The answer is in most ways, not much to crow about. While, Budget Chairs, Ryan and Murray, worked hard to coral unity in their political parties, and did in fact avoid, another potential government shut down, and perhaps will avoid further sequester cuts to Domestic Programs. The reality is the deal is not much to be proud of.
After accounting for inflation, non-defense discretionary funding (Domestic Programs) is slated to fall in 2015 nearly back to the 2013 post-sequestration level. By 2016, funding will have dropped below the 2013 post-sequestration level, meaning that all of the gains from the Murray-Ryan deal will be gone. The 2016 funding level is $105 billion – or 18 percent – below the 2010 level, after adjusting for inflation.
While the Budget deal restores some funding to defense and domestic spending, it mostly halted a downward trend of sequester cuts, but it did little to build up to the levels that keep up with inflation or the growing needs.
So while Murray-Ryan was a positive step, policymakers ultimately will need to revisit the funding limits in current law to prevent the further erosion of funding for critical programs.
As one of the Washington Post staff writers recently blogged:
It cuts the pensions of federal workers and military retirees while keeping wide open egregious tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest. It reduces domestic discretionary spending to Bush-era levels. It does absolutely nothing to create jobs at a time when unemployment remains our biggest economic problem.
Negotiators didn’t even extend unemployment benefits – set to expire three days after Christmas – for1.3 million long-term unemployed workers(and millions of their children), …… Meanwhile, conservatives and progressives agree that letting unemployment benefits lapse would further imperil our fragile economic recovery. In addition to being needlessly cruel, this deal is just plain bad policy…..Simply doing something doesn’t mean that you’re doing the right thing. Washington Post Blog
The end result is the work of Congress is far from done. All agree headway has been made, avoiding bad consequences of sequester, more choice is now given to committees to fund programs. But where are we really? That question won’t be answered by January 15, 2014. Congressman Ryan on Meet the Press last week called the deal a baby step, and he is right. There is still uncertainty, for government employees, contractors, Indian Nations and the many that are dependent on Federal Funding for essential programs. The only fact known is that there is still a need for a grand solution that looks at tax reform for sources of revenue and reform of key programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Real lawmaking will require more effort than what we are seeing from the current Congress.