Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

December 15, 2013

ANOTHER VIEW: Congress makes progress

Congress makes progress

Maybe we’re all just too optimistic this time of year, but it seems Congress has made some real progress rebutting various grinches and latching on to the wonder of the season or, if not wonder, at least a short-term budget deal.

House Republican and Senate Democrat leaders announced the agreement on a short-term budget deal Wednesday that seemed to breed more humility than acrimony. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., noted the deal did not give either side everything it wanted. Republicans wanted steeper spending cuts and Democrats wanted an extension of unemployment benefits.

The deal provided some overall debt reduction and kept some 90 percent of the sequester spending cuts in place. It removed $63 billion in sequester cuts over two years that were beginning to affect everything from national defense to children’s education programs. Ryan struck the deal with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

House and Senate leadership also praised the deal and suggested chances are good for positive votes in both Houses.

It will avert a shutdown in January and beyond. While some $63 billion in automatic cuts over 2 years would essentially increase spending, that spending will be paid for with increases in some fees – such as airline security fees – over a longer period of time.

The budget increases the short-term deficit, but decreases deficits in the long term. While Ryan noted it is not the type of budget he proposed in the past that didn’t pass, he sounded a more pragmatic tone, noting as a “conservative” he was operating in a divided government and getting a budget passed that would help stabilize the economy.

He’s more than right about that. He’s also building credibility as a budget hawk and will likely be more influential in the long run should he continue to be reasonable about what can be done. It’s a new side of Ryan that all Republicans should be embracing.

— Mankato (Minn.) Free Press

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