In October, Congress promised to get together and address the budget and the nation’s ongoing spending crisis. Now after weeks of negotiations and political posturing, the conference committee has finally come up with a plan – and it’s bad news for anyone who believes the United States government cannot sensibly continue on its current path.
The plan? If you like your bloated, big-spending government — you can keep it.
Rep. Paul Ryan and establishment leaders have apparently just given up on everything they had promised – now agreeing to more revenues in exchange for more spending, while gutting the only plan for reducing spending that Congress has produced in decades.
Ryan is on record as supporting maintaining the sequester if a larger deal on entitlements cannot be met. Yet Tuesday’s announced agreement does not even attempt any real reforms to mandatory spending.
The deal includes $1.012 trillion in spending, well above the 2014 BCA limit of $967 billion. It raises revenues through increased federal employee benefits contributions and air ticket taxes, and it leaves untouched major entitlements and the tax code.
Sequestration, while imperfect, was supposed to be a starting point for a sober national discussion and path forward in making government financially solvent. Fiscally responsible Americans looked forward to building on that conversation.
This latest agreement all but ends it.
However one feels about the role of taxes in addressing our budget problems, let’s be perfectly clear: the source of our crisis is too much spending. With this deal, once again Washington completely refuses to address the core of our national fiscal crisis and proves without a doubt that it is not serious about getting its fiscal house in order.
Offhand promises of possible future entitlement reforms are simply not enough to make up for the awful concessions in the deal, and self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who go along with such a plan do so at the risk of their own credibility.
This deal is a disastrous lose-lose compromise that yet again kicks the can down the road. It also serves to give us as little road as possible. The deal comes just days before Congress is scheduled to recess for the rest of the year and leaves fiscal conservatives with their backs against the wall, facing an awful agreement and little time to demand better alternatives.
We can still demand better. In fact, we must. Not addressing our spending problem today could make the next generation look back on us as the most irresponsible in our nation’s history.
That should not be our legacy. It doesn’t have to be.
Jonathan Bydlak is the president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to limiting federal spending.