We Have a Budget Deal, and It Erases and Ignores Sequestration 

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 10 2013 6:41 PM

We Have a Budget Deal, and It Erases and Ignores Sequestration 

454940795
Patty Murray, D-Wash., had an easier time of it than Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Habemus budgetum! Shortly after 6 p.m., House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray emerged behind the Senate studio podium and revealed the budget they and the conference committee had hammered out. Conservatives have warned that any budget that spent more than the sequestration limit—$967 billion—would be throatily opposed by them.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

This budget would spend $1.012 trillion.

Advertisement

So Ryan (and to a lesser extent, Murray) would spend the 17-minute press conference explaining what was in the budget and why they had not sold out. This was easy for Murray: Her Democrats had prevented any cuts to Social Security or Medicare, the sort of entitlement reforms that the pundit class had been crying for and crying for.

Ryan had a tougher time of it. "In divided government, you don't always get what you want," he said. "We eliminate waste. We stop sending checks to criminals. We cut corporate welfare. We start making real changes to these autopilot programs that are the real drivers of our debt." Twice he was asked how he would defend the plan to Republicans in the House and to conservative groups.

Answer one: "As a conservative, I think this is a step in the right direction. The deficit will go down more if we pass this than if we did nothing."

Answer two: "As a conservative, I deal with the situation as it exists. I deal with the way things are, not the way I may want them to be. I'm not going to go a mile in the direction I want to go, but I'll take a few steps."

Ryan wouldn't promise or predict the support of his whole party, or even 217 members of it. And he never had to explain how "it raises no taxes" can be comported with the fee increases, such as greater TSA fees for travelers, in the budget. The defense hawks could look at "$63 billion of sequester relief," and those worried about "automatic spending" could gaze at the new requirements for federal employees to pay more of their own money into pensions. That would add up to $6 billion for federal employees, $6 billion for military members.

"It's only fair that hard-working taxpayers who pay for the benefits our employees receive be treated fairly as well," said Ryan. "We are showing that government can function at its basic level, which is paying the bills."

The deal did not raise the debt limit ("that's another press conference!"), or tackle expiring unemployment insurance. "The key is, nobody had to sacrifice their core principles," said Ryan. 

The condemnations would roll in from the various good-government groups that had been demanding entitlement cuts, and from the conservatives who had attacked the idea of a budget that broke the spending caps. But first, Murray and Ryan shook hands.

UPDATE: The outline of the budget is up here, and our usual holdouts in Congress are already worrying the tax/fee question.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.