The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the New Budget Deal

This agreement is about Paul Ryan running for president, not about solving the country's pressing problems.

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Left or right, there are many that are excited about the budget deal House and Senate negotiators reached yesterday. It keeps Republicans happy, since military spending would be raised, and keeps Democrats happy, as domestic spending would be increased over the next two years. Angering travelers, fees on airlines tickets, which are already high, would be increased, along with employee contributions to government pensions.

So ... what's good about this?

1) Bipartisanship. I know, a dirty word, but the American people have shown in poll after poll that they're sick and tired of the fighting between the two parties. They want both sides to come together, negotiate and get something done. And they did.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

2) It's a start. Again, heeding the advice of the American people, who still show the economy as their number one concern.

3) If they can truly agree on this and get it passed, this would avoid another government shutdown, which would hurt so many Americans, especially at this time of year.

The bad?

1) This is a moderate dent in our deficit to say the least. Some would say it's a start, but it's a very, very slow start.

2) All of this is just a show for the sake of politics both left and right. This will never pass the House, as the ole' school GOP bow down to the conservative think tanks. And the tea party won't go for it; "Americans for Prosperity," the brainchild of the Koch brothers, has already come out against it.  

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

And the ugly?

1) This isn't about getting along. This is about House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., running for president and trying to show himself and his party in a more moderate light.

2) But the ugliest of them all, I believe, is that this is just a plan to keep the attacks on the Affordable Care Act in front of the American people. If the government doesn't close, Americans won't blame the Republicans as they have in the past. And the only traction Republicans are getting in the polls these days seem to come from their attacks on Obamacare.

So while this looks like they're playing along, trying to avoid a government shutdown and are listening to the American people, it's just a part of their plan, their ulterior motive beingto keep the negative attacks against the ACA and their efforts to repeal it, replace it, remove it, etc.

The bottom line is this. Our debt is $17 trillion; this will reduce a very small fraction of that and there are no tax increases. Without the balance of cuts in spending and increases in taxes in some areas, there will never be big reductions to the deficit and the budget will never be truly balanced.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

These two sides in Washington owe it to the American people not only to get along, not only to agree on a proposal for a budget, but to pass one that makes a true dent in our deficit and truly helps to rejuvenate our economy and creates jobs. Until both sides agree on how to deal with the growing health care costs (which is why, folks, the Affordable Care Act had to be passed), entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security and attacking the badly needed problems with our current tax code, we won't be getting anywhere.

Until then, both sides are enjoying the show, pretending to agree, playing nice while the cameras are rolling. Call me a pessimist, but give it a day or two and they'll be back to their partisan bickering and the Republicans will be back to their obstructionist mindset.

Ah, isn't it great to be an American?

  • Read Peter Roff: Kill Paul Ryan's and Patty Murray's Tax-and-Spending Budget Deal
  • Read Charles Wheelan: Progressives Could Become a Tea Party of the Left
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