Tonawanda News

December 14, 2013

OUR VIEW: Budget deal a positive sign from Congress

The News' Editorial Board
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — It’s a sad sign when it feels like praise is due to federal lawmakers for successfully carrying out the most basic function of government — passing a budget. But that’s where we’re at.

Shockingly, lawmakers from both parties were able to cobble together a deal on a spending plan — albeit one that fails to address any of the actual difficult problems — at the 11th hour. It trims the deficit by about $23 billion, which is a good thing. It restores some of the sequester defense spending cuts that everyone agreed made absolutely no sense. Revenue enhancements are included but tax rates remain the same.

And that’s about it.

It does nothing to address spending disparities in the entitlement programs Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It does not close any of the business tax loopholes allowing corporations raking in billions to remain on welfare. It does not extend unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans who still can’t find work.

And by signing off on the deal, which passed the House of Representatives Thursday and is expected to pass the Senate in the coming days, President Obama has more or less given up the ghost on reaching a much needed “grand bargain” to address the many fiscal ills facing our country. 

Still, it’s a deal. The lights will stay on for now. We passed a budget without shutting down the government or driving over any fiscal cliffs.

Of course, some Tea Party Republicans cried foul — but when don’t they?

Good for John Boehner, finally standing up to the outside interest groups that have dragged his caucus — and by extension, the nation — to the brink of fiscal collapse with their all-or-nothing orthodoxy. This budget is a minor piece of legislation that won’t fundamentally change anything from a policy standpoint. 

But it could bode well for a sea change in the political fever that’s gripped Washington for the last several years. Tea Party members and their allied interest groups were finally shoved to the political fringe where they belong.

Leaders from both parties came together, struck a deal and will pass a budget. These days, that’s what passes for a good day on Capitol Hill.

Here’s hoping there’s more of them to come.