John Boehner is about to leave the House of Representatives’ speakership, but he also is set to leave the country with thoughtful parting gift.
A two-year budget deal he and the White House hammered out.
What does this mean? It means that President Obama won’t have any more threats of government shutdowns during the remainder of his time in office. It also means — with Congress set to approve the deal — that Boehner is sticking it in the eye of the TEA Party cadre of legislators who have bedeviled him and the White House.
Deal averts crisis
Perhaps the best part of the deal is that is recognizes the need for the United States to honor its debt obligations by increasing the debt ceiling. This is sure to anger the TEA Party folks, who keep insisting on fighting with others in Congress — including the so-called “establishment Republicans” — over whether to honor our obligations or default on them.
Boehner has made no secret of his disdain for this tactic. The pressure from the far right of his party, though, got to him. He packed it in.
The presumed next House speaker, Paul Ryan, is on board with the deal.
Well, I and millions of other Americans will accept the speaker’s parting gift gladly.
What gives here?
Congress’s approval ratings, which had been languishing in the single digits for months on end, suddenly have taken a “spike” upward. According to the RealClearPolitics.com poll average — the one that takes in all the major polls’ findings and averages them out — shows congressional approval at 12.4 percent, as of Dec. 9.
I think we’re going to see even more improvement in the days and weeks ahead.
On what do I base that bold prediction? It’s the budget deal hammered out by Democrats and Republicans, actually working together to avoid a government shutdown that has done the trick.
I’ve noted already that the deal announced by committee chairs Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray — a Republican and Democrat, respectively — is far from perfect. But the bigger point is that legislation rarely satisfies everyone. Good government almost always is the product of compromise, which by definition means both sides have to give a little to get something done.
If you track congressional approval ratings on the link attached to this blog back to when the government shut down in October, you’ll notice a decided tanking of public approval of Congress. Republicans leaders who run the House of Representatives took it on the chin the hardest from Americans fed up with the obstruction, the posturing and the do-nothing approach taken by the GOP.
It goes without saying — but I’ll say it anyway — that both chambers of Congress are populated by politicians … even those who say they “aren’t politicians.” Therefore, politicians depend on the people’s feelings about the job they’re doing if they want to stay in office.
All 535 members of the House and Senate should take heed at this “spike” in approval ratings. I think Americans are sending them a message: Do something — for a change.
Well, the world did not spin off its axis as some had thought might happen with the congressional budget negotiations.
Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray produced a budget compromise that makes some people happy, some people unhappy and even some folks on both extremes quite unhappy.
I believe it’s called compromise. No one gets everything they want.
Am I happy with the deal? Not entirely. I wish they could have extended long-term unemployment insurance for about a million Americans. They didn’t. I also wish they could have produced some significant tax reform that closes a lot of corporate loopholes. That one is undone too.
But the deal forestalls a government shutdown. It lays out a budget for the next two years. It cuts the deficit by $23 billion over the next decade. If that seems like chump change with a budget of more than $1 trillion, it is.
However, the deficit has been shrinking significantly on its own already.
Perhaps the most oversold element of the deal is that it buys congressional negotiators time to craft a “grand bargain” that addresses entitlement reform, tax reform, revenue increases, further spending cuts … all of that kind of thing.
Does anyone really believe Congress is going to take full advantage of the opportunity to do something really grand?
However, a bipartisan agreement — which still must be approved by Congress — is a sign of progress on Capitol Hill. For that I am grateful.