Yesterday, [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] unveiled his proposed budget deal. It can best be described as “money for everyone.” Budget caps are smashed. The piggy bank is opened for increased domestic discretionary spending on Democrat priorities. The establishment is happy:
The White House and congressional leaders neared a deal Monday on a two-year budget plan that also would raise the federal debt limit, according to lawmakers and aides.
Such a broad pact would allow House Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] (R., Ohio) to resolve two of the thorniest fiscal hurdles before he resigns later this week. If it fails, it could leave the U.S. government a week away from potentially being unable to pay all its bills.
The emerging plan is designed to remove the risk that the government might default and diminish the prospect of a partial government shutdown in December. It would suspend the debt limit through March 2017 and boost spending by $80 billion through September 2017, said people familiar with the discussions. Lawmakers still would need to pass detailed spending bills by December, likely in one combined measure.
Two things to be terrified of. This is a deal with the White House. There will be another massive omnibus spending bill as the Christmas recess approaches. Make it three things: [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] won’t even be around to see it enacted.
The budget agreement would boost defense funding for the next two years, a priority of many Republicans, while raising nondefense discretionary spending, a White House priority. The deal would increase spending by $50 billion in fiscal year 2016 and $30 billion in fiscal year 2017, split evenly between military and domestic spending.
Savings offsets under discussion could include health-care entitlement changes, radio spectrum auctions and oil sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, among others.
The agreement is expected to make changes to the Social Security program used to help support disabled people, which could face resistance from Democrats. The trust fund for the Social Security Disability Insurance program could be exhausted by next fall, triggering a 19% benefit cut for workers who collect disability. The newest deal could spell out a formula to avoid those automatic cuts.
The talks are said to include a way to address an increase in deductibles for the 52 million people enrolled in Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care such as doctor visits. They also may address a 52% jump in annual insurance premiums for roughly 30% of those in that program.
Premiums and deductibles are rising next year due to a quirk in the formula governing such payments for years when Social Security benefits don’t receive an annual cost of living increase, as is the case for next year.
The agreement could also repeal a delayed provision of the 2010 health law requiring employers to automatically enroll workers in company plans.
They are attempting to address a wide variety of issues, issues that could have been addressed at any time in the past three years, via a budget that has a debt ceiling deadline involved. Because, apparently, the best way to deal with really important items is by negotiating behind closed doors, ignoring the committee mark-up process, and ramming the bill through Congress because of an emotionally charged but utterly meaningless deadline. What ever could go wrong here?
Many members of Congress have complained about the process:
Asked about the tentative agreement after the briefing, Alabama [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ] replied: “My knees quiver at the sound.”
In an interview, Sessions expressed frustration that outgoing Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] was hammering out the deal just days before he plans to give up the gavel for good. “What does Boehner got to do with it?” said an exasperated Sessions, the former top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “I’m worried about how fast it’s moving. I see no reason for that. Based on what I know now, it appears the president got whatever he wanted.”
“I have strong concerns given that we did a budget earlier this year [and] took $7 trillion out of the president’s budget over the next 10 years,” said [mc_name name=’Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000612′ ] (R-Ga.) as he left the Monday night meeting. “These last-minute deals make me very nervous.”
The discontent over the preliminary fiscal agreement also extended to the House on Monday night, where [mc_name name=’Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’A000367′ ] (R-Mich.) focused his ire over how leadership was handling the budget process.
“We’re not just here to take commands. We’re really tired of the top-down, micromanagement where you have just a few people, or in this case just the speaker and his team, determining the outcome,” Amash said. “This is a fair reason to vote against the bill.”
“Looking at the information that we’ve gathered so far, I’m not necessarily in a position where I think that’s in the best interest of our country going forward,” [mc_name name=’Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001184′ ] (R-S.C.) told reporters. “It’s just hard to justify that we’re not figuring out how to clamp down on spending.”
Now the budget deal may be in big trouble. Paul Ryan, the guy who will have to move the spending bill to support the budget through the House, is not happy.
[mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] blasted Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ], Senate leadership and the White House for cutting a budget deal behind closed doors, saying the “process stinks.”
Ryan said he hasn’t gone through the agreement, which was posted last night.
“This is not the way to do the people’s business,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “And under new management we are not going to do the people’s business this way. We are up against a deadline – that’s unfortunate. But going forward we can’t do the people’s business. As a conference we should’ve been meeting months ago to discuss these things to have a unified strategy going forward.”
We’ll see how this plays out. We’ve all seen too much Failure Theater to take anything one of these guys says all that seriously.
Ryan, the likely next speaker, has not said how he’ll vote on the accord, which is expected on the House floor Wednesday. The deal, however, helps Ryan immensely. It sets budget levels for two years, lifts the debt ceiling until March 2017 and removes the threat of a government shutdown until October 2016. Ryan did not negotiate the deal, and wants to put some space between himself and the accord. Many Republicans are expected to vote against it.
One thing is for sure, we’ll know soon enough were Ryan stands on this. The best solution for the GOP is to vote a clear continuing resolution. That keeps the sequester in place and inflation takes a bite out of the federal budget while the GDP grows at an anemic Obama-conomy rate. It also avoids giving Obama any real pressure point to play silly games during the election season. The worst possible solution for the GOP is what Boehner has cooked up.