Scam or no scam?

Your Editor begins by noting that he is always leery of any “compromise” between the Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the budget. Both sides say that they gae up something for the good of all, but such compromises usually turn out to be very unbalanced, and unbalanced toward the liberals’ advantage. From The Wall Street Journal:

House, Senate Negotiators Announce Budget Deal
By Janet Hook | Updated Dec. 10, 2013 6:34 p.m. ET

House and Senate negotiators are on the verge of announcing a budget agreement that would avert a government shutdown and bring a rare dose of stability to Congress’s fiscal policy-making over the next two years, according to lawmakers briefed on the negotiations.

Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) worked through the day Tuesday to put the finishing touches on a two-year budget agreement and briefed colleagues on the broad outlines of the emerging deal.

Senate Democrats who met midday with Ms. Murray said the deal’s announcement was imminent. Negotiators aim to bring the bill to the House for a vote before week’s end, when the House is scheduled to adjourn for the year. A Senate vote likely would follow next week.

The goal of the Murray-Ryan talks has been to find a way to ease the next round of across-the-board spending cuts, which are slated to reduce the budget for most domestic and defense programs to $967 billion in 2014, down from $986 billion in 2013.

The deal is expected to raise that budget target to about $1 trillion in 2014 and 2015. But to keep that from increasing the deficit over the long term, the deal calls for offsetting the increased spending by raising government fees and cutting spending in other parts of the budget, such as on federal employee pensions.

My number one question: does this deal increase discretionary federal spending over what it would be with the sequester in place? The last two paragraphs make it sound as though the sequester cuts will be replaced by future targets in cuts of slightly more than the sequester amounts, and that some government fees — meaning: taxes — will be increased.

Not included in this deal is the Democrats’ proposal to, once again, extend long-term unemployment benefits.

Your Editor will wait to see just what the details of this agreement are before passing judgement, but he is not optimistic.


  1. From The Wall Street Journal:

    Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who struck the deal after weeks of private talks, said it would allow more spending for domestic and defense programs in the near term, while adopting deficit-reduction measures over a decade to offset the costs.

    That’s the same article, this time the quote coming from the 9:17 PM update. But, to put it simply: spending will be increased, as will various “revenue enhancements.”

    One thing is clear: the only way out of our financial mess is to regain the Senate and the White House. As long as the Democrats have any power, we will spend too much money. We’ll spend too much money even if the Republicans do have complete control, but it won’t be as much as when the Democrats have power.

  2. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial:

    A Least Bad Budget Deal
    More spending now for some genuine, if modest, reforms.

    The best that can be said about the House-Senate budget deal announced late Tuesday is that it includes no tax increases, no new incentives for not working, and some modest entitlement reforms. Oh, and it will avoid another shutdown fiasco, assuming enough Republicans refuse to attempt suicide a second time.

    The worst part of the two-year deal is that it breaks the 2011 Budget Control Act’s discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The deal breaks the caps by some $63 billion over the two years and then re-establishes the caps starting in 2016 where they are in current law at $1.016 trillion. Half of the increase will go to defense and half to the domestic accounts prized by Democrats.

    Breaking the caps is a victory for Senate Democrats and House Republican Appropriators like Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, who will get more money to spend and will dodge another continuing resolution that doesn’t allow them to set spending priorities. It would be nice to think they’ll spend the money on such useful purposes as cancer or Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health. But they will also get to dole out pork. The deal means overall federal spending will not decline in 2014 as it has the last two years.

    To offset the extra spending without adding to the deficit over 10 years, the deal includes about an $85 billion grab bag of new fees, some amusingly revealing program changes, and modest entitlement reforms. The fees add up to about $26 billion over 10 years, and they are all charges for government services that were proposed in chief GOP negotiator Paul Ryan’s previous House budget resolutions.

    More at the link. Total federal discretionary spending will increase from the projected FY2014 level of $967 billion to $1.012 billion; the Democrats controlling the Senate had earlier voted on a $1.058 discretionary spending budget. Defense spending for FY2014 will rise from the projected $498 billion to $520.5 billion (4.52%), while non-defense discretionary spending will rise from $469 billion to $491.8 billion (4.86%).

    The Administration played the woe-is-me Defense card, saying that retirement pensions would have to be cut and commissaries closed, increasing the burdens on current and retiring servicemen, and ordered got the generals and admirals to go along with what the Administration wanted said.

    But, we aren’t cutting entitlements, nope, nosiree! The real drivers of our exploding spending, the automatic spending of entitlements, keeps on keeping on. And we will never get our spending under control until we rein in entitlements.

  3. And we will never get our spending under control until we rein in entitlements.

    No. Not until we get rid of them entirely. There’s no way to “rein in” social security without provoking a riot from those who benefit from it. Ditto medicare. You might as well try to “Rein in” the alcohol consumption of an alcololic. Cold turkey is the only solution.

  4. One thing is clear: the only way out of our financial mess is to regain the Senate and the White House.

    Maybe. But a Senate full of RINO’s and one in the White House won’t do us much good, either.

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