A Deal To Keep The Lights On

Suzy Khimm analyzes the budget deal proposed by Democratic Senator Patty Murray and GOP Congressman Paul Ryan:

Ryan and Murray had more maneuvering room as Congress has been almost entirely consumed with the fight over Obamacare. But their new comity was also possible because the bar was set so low. Congress and the White House have all but given up on reaching a long-term deficit reduction deal that it was originally aiming for. Instead, they entirely avoided touching major entitlement and tax programs—the biggest and most controversial sources of deficit reduction.

J.P.P. at The Economist chimes in:

There is one politically difficult thing in the agreement: federal workers will have to contribute more towards their pensions. But for the most part this is a deal that succeeded because it does not require either side to make meaningful compromises, in the sense of giving up something which is dear to them. The process that led to the deal is welcome. This is the first budget conference since 2010: in the intervening years there seemed no point in holding one as the two sides were so far apart. The substance, though, is not much more than an agreement to keep the lights on. That ought to mean it can get past Congress, where House Republicans are unlikely to bring on another government shutdown while they are having such fun with Obamacare.

Josh Green is unsure what Congress will do:

[T]his deal could easily fall prey to the same forces that wrecked earlier agreements: hardline conservatives.

The Ryan-Murray deal would raise 2014 spending to $1.012 trillion, instead of $967 billion. It also includes $23 billion in additional deficit reduction meant as a sop to hardliners, although this doesn’t appear to be doing the trick. The conservative pressure group Heritage Action called the agreement “a gimmicky, spend-now-cut-later deal will take our nation in the wrong direction.” Mark them down as a “no.” And because the Ryan-Murray deal is an ordinary bill, and not a special resolution, it’s subject to a filibuster. So Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may already be warming up his vocal chords.

Tomasky’s view:

Right now, the arbiters of the conventional wisdom are agreed that the Republicans under no circumstances would risk or permit another government shutdown. They’re probably correct. But the drumbeat on the right, especially on the talk-radio right, is likely to be that this deal is a win for the big-spending Obamabots, and if that’s the message, then support in the GOP House could vaporize pretty quickly. January 15 is a long way away. Will the hard right risk another shutdown over $45 billion? That is going to be the question. Don’t believe—yet—anyone who tells you they know the answer.

Suderman’s two cents:

Republicans on the Hill are still familiarizing themselves with the details, and they’ll no doubt find more than a few elements they dislike. But they may learn to live with it anyway. As I heard one GOP legislator describe it shortly after the announcement, the deal is simulataneously not so great and likely the best deal that Republicans can get.

Ezra wishes the deal included an unemployment insurance extension:

Democrats wanted to add unemployment insurance to the deal but found Republicans implacably opposed. Which is to say that Republicans were able to add extra deficit reduction to the deal but Democrats weren’t able to add help for the long-term unemployed to the deal. It’s a reminder of where the political system’s priorities are — and a reminder that they’re grossly out of line.

And Sarah Binder skeptical that this deal will lead to more deals:

[W]ill the bipartisan spirit that produced this deal portend additional bipartisan deals around the corner?  I’m doubtful.  Breaking the cycle of budgetary brinkmanship does not yet seem to have resolved bicameral differences elsewhere on the Hill.  Even a pared back defense bill (cobbled when GOP senators blocked progress on a broader annual bill) faces an uphill battle towards enactment.  More likely, the mini-deal is emblematic of legislative battles in polarized times: Parties come to the table only when the costs of blocking an agreement are too great to shoulder. And even then, parties will give up as little as necessary to avoid the sometimes painful consequences of stalemate.