Last week House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Finance Chairman Patty Murray came to a two year budget compromise that I believe further compromises this nation’s financial future. In the name of staving-off another government shutdown, GOP leaders made a deal with the Democrats that will increase federal spending by over $63 billion in the first two years with the promise of $85 billion in offsetting cuts over the next ten years. This is a seemingly reasonable proposal which, in theory, would save a net $22 billion ($85 billion in long term savings less $63 billion in near term spending), but the Washington status quo will keep it from ever actually happening. Any DC deal that proposes to spend now and promises to save later is a budget buster that will only add to the debt.
For decades, Washington has kicked the can down the road with these kinds of “compromise” deals that are never followed-through. The proposal itself isn’t the biggest problem; it’s the long term politics that will ensure that the savings portion is never put in place. Typical for DC, the spending comes first with the savings set to kick-in later. President Reagan fell for this bait and switch with a Democratic Congress in the 1980s, and conservatives have seen this kind of hollow commitment enough times since to make the sunniest optimist a cynic. While I understand that Representative Ryan is trying to make the most of a messy situation with the Democrats in control of the Senate and White House, this is not the way to avoid another government shutdown. The government shutdown earlier this year was over Obamacare, not over sequestration. I don’t believe another government shutdown will work to anyone’s advantage, but sequestration wasn’t what led to this last one. Yes, this proposal by Representative Ryan and Senator Murray rolls-back sequestration and allows federal spending to balloon again over the next two years.
While I think sequestration was a politically irresponsible proposal by President Obama, the calling of his bluff by Congress has yielded the first meaningful spending cut in recent memory. While there are plenty of politicians who have sought to capitalize off of this cut, the American people have noticed little if any effect on their daily lives, and it is one step toward stopping this runaway spending that threatens our entire economy. While I agree with Representative Ryan that another government shutdown would devastate the conservative cause in the elections next year, there was a better way to avoid one: pass a clean Continuing Resolution with sequestration still in effect. Democrats wouldn’t have risked a government shutdown over sequestration while they’re already politically vulnerable over the Affordable Care Act.
While I still respect Representative Ryan, and I always try and give people grace and the benefit of the doubt, I believe this was an unnecessary concession to bigger government. If Republicans would have stood firm on leaving sequestration in place for one more year, they would have kept short term spending from spiking until after conservatives can, hopefully, claim the Senate and put in place real spending cuts that make more sense.