Yesterday, "Roll Call" and "Politico" had articles describing optimism in the Beltway over getting a budget deal to happen by December 13. Unfortunately, the optimism is misguided, and typical of the reversal of reality that exists in the Beltway.
First, consider why the optimism exists. From "Politico":
Comprehensive tax reform or the elusive grand bargain, this is not. Ryan, Murray and their allies take pride in saying that the deal emerging is narrow and massively unimpressive. It simply sets spending levels for 2014 and 2015, and changes the composition of statutory across-the-board spending cuts by finding savings in other areas of the budget. It’s an attempt to return Congress to some sense of normalcy — but even that could provide Ryan with a political win.
No tax reform to provide more money to the struggling American people. No entitlement reform to prevent a fiscal calamity as the costs of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and interest payments rise. Instead, many Members of Congress seem excited at the possibility of...returning to budget normalcy.
This is nothing to celebrate; passing an annual budget is one of Congress' key duties, something it has ignored for years.
[sharequote align="center"]Passing an annual budget is one of Congress' key duties, something it has ignored for years.[/sharequote]
Which brings up reason number two why the American people should be aghast at celebration of a possible deal: one of the few constitutional duties of Congress is to pass an annual budget. It's also one of its most important duties. Excitement at partially getting back to within the limits of existing law is a pathetic standard to set.
Look at it this way – if your employer didn't pay you as your contract required, then started fulfilling some of his or her legal obligations, would you be excited? I doubt it. You'd probably sue for breach of contract.
The Capital is mirrored in the Capital Reflecting Pool on Capitol Hill in Washington early Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Third, a deal is likely to come about only if Republicans agree to raise fees. This will give Democrats more revenue to brag about, and Republicans the ability to say they didn't raise taxes. While this is great political cover for both parties, it will result in the American people seeing more money leave their wallets. It will also allow Washington to continue embarrassing drunken sailors with its spending habits.
It is a common tactic in Washington for politicians to claim credit for whatever they can. Members of Congress regularly put out public statements praising themselves and/or Congress for paying the military, as President Obama and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did earlier this year – even though paying the military is merely fulfillment of an existing contract.
Hopefully, the American people will see through this charade, and realize that any upcoming budget deal is not a sign of success – but utter and complete failure at the top levels of the federal government.
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