House Passes 2014 Budget Agreement (Yawn)

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It is neither a triumph nor an abject surrender. Attempts to turn it into the Defining Issue of Our Generation (until the next one at least), do not help the GOP or the cause in any meaningful way. Neither the establishment nor the grassroots conservatives should think they can make a big deal over such a puny deal, and we think an elected conservative could just about flip a coin to decide voting Yes or No. Yuval Levin at NRO provides a thoughtful analysis.

It’s not exactly a deal to be celebrated, because it’s a very tiny step and does nothing to address the horrendous fiscal problems of our entitlement system. Most simply stated, the agreement would raise the discretionary spending levels set by the sequester by about $45 billion in 2014 and by about $20 billion in 2015, in each case divided evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary increases. Indeed, what stands out most as a general matter about this proposed agreement is how very small it is—for good and bad. It involves about $65 billion over the next two years (a bit less than nine-tenths of one percent of projected federal spending over that period).

That the Democrats would accept a deal like this is a pretty striking indication of how the Republican House has changed the conversation on the spending front since 2010. Think of it this way: In their first budget after re-taking the majority—the FY 2012 Ryan budget, passed in 2011—the House Republicans wanted discretionary spending to be $1.039 trillion in 2014 and $1.047 trillion in 2015. These budgets were of course described by the Democrats and the political press (but I repeat myself) as some reversion to humanity’s barbaric past. Yet this proposed deal with the Democrats would put discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015—in both cases below that first House Republican budget.

Rep. Tom Price explained on the Fox News Special Report panel that every time a CR is passed, then it’s simply a continuation of Obama and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s policies going forth. By passing a budget deal through both the House and Senate the Republicans are putting their first imprint on the federal budget since taking the House majority. Looking at it from the aspect of the legislative branch instead of political party viewpoint, this deal also helps the House and Senate reclaim their constitutional authority and responsibility to appropriate instead of letting Obama and his minions in the executive branch decide what they will and won’t appropriate within the spending caps.

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