Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Will Boehner allow the compromise Budget to interfere with his Christmas dinner?

Paul Ryan (R) and Patty Murray (D)
Representative Paul Ryan (R) and Senator Patty Murray (D) have reached a compromise agreement on a budget that would roll back some aspects of sequestration cuts.

The compromise agreement would return about $65 billion of sequester cuts to government spending over two years.  It builds upon the $2.5 trillion already cut by sequester and other government spending reductions made since 2011.

Senator Murray admitted that the compromise does not fulfill all of the goals of either party but claims it will return the certainty that businesses need and will ensure that certain safety net programs will be revitalized.

Many big issues remained unresolved and as Patty Murray explained, will still require a lot of work by Congress.  For example, no agreement was reached on revenue increases through taxes or closing corporate tax loopholes.  Nothing was agreed to change medicare or social security.  No progress was made on extending unemployment benefits, and many other major issues facing America today were left for Congress to address.

The two focused on areas of agreement. Paul Ryan was happy with the fact that he did not give up anything insofar as Republican policies.  He stated that those policies were to reduce the deficit and not allow tax increases, both of which fit within the boundaries of the budget compromise.  Patty Murray explained that the compromise stays away from medicare and social security changes.

Both Ryan and Murray say they conversed with members of their own party about the agreement and believe they will have the support to get the agreement through both Houses before holiday recess.  Speaker John Boehner was heard to say that he was still planning to adjourn this week for holiday, so if he fails to bring the agreement up for a vote, it should not be a surprise.

Some ultraconservative members of the Republican caucus believe that the sequester was a good thing and are not interested in altering that.  It still remains a question as to whether there are enough like-minded opposition members to prevent such a budget bill from passing if it makes it to a vote.

So we find ourselves with an agreement between some members of Congress that adds back some of the cuts made by the sequester, but leaves most important issues around the budget open and much of the sequester cuts in effect.

Bringing the agreement up for a vote is only the first hurdle.  There is still  much more for Congress to discuss related to budget issues.  Inaction in Congress has shown itself to be an excellent mechanism to carry out Republican goals now that the sequester is seen by conservatives as a viable domestic economic policy.

Based on the typical behavior of Congress, the chances of the compromise agreement becoming law is very low.  Even the chances of it being brought to the House floor is low.  Other issues just as important as the budget compromise are sill waiting for Boehner to bring them to the House.  Will the budget compromise be any different?

Maybe John Boehner and his gang of do-nothings will have finally found the motivation they need to take positive actions for the first time this year since they can do it for the benefit of their defense contractor constituents.

The military and defense contractors have the most to gain from the budget agreement, since it would ward off the next round of sequester cuts which took aim directly at military spending.  If carried out, the sequester would next be cutting $20 billion from the military, most of which would have been spent on the products of defense contractors.

This opportunity gives some small chance that Boehner's conservatives may try to rush a vote on the compromise agreement.  But then again, the holidays are coming and who wants to work during a holiday?