Tag Archives: Patty Murray

Rep. Ryan makes sense on Meet the Press

I thought my ears were playing tricks on me today when I listened to the “Meet the Press” interview with Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, co-chairs of the congressional committee that hammered out the two-year budget deal that passed overwhelmingly in the House the other day.

There was Ryan, a stalwart tea party Republican — and the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee in 2012 — sounding reasonable and accommodating. He noted that compromise requires both sides to give a little. He said it was good to sit down with the Democrat Murray to understand what she believes and where she stands on budget matters.


Ryan also noted that the 2012 presidential election, which he and Mitt Romney lost to President Obama and Vice President Biden, served as a wakeup call to Republicans. The other side won and we lost, Ryan said.

Therefore, it was time to start working with those on the other side, not against them.

Therein lies the key to the budget deal that has enraged the right-wingers of the GOP and made more than a few left-wing Democrats unhappy. The message from Ryan and Murray? Live with it and let’s back to governing.

It’s nice to realize I wasn’t hearing things after all.

Bipartisanship clawing its way back? Maybe

The U.S. House of Representatives, led by the Republicans — who are in turn being rattled by the tea party wing of their own party — is beginning to rumble with bipartisanship once again.



The House voted 332-94 in favor of the two-year budget deal hammered out by a conference committee co-chaired by Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray.

Is the deal perfect? Hardly.

But it prevents another partial government shutdown, which turned out to be a nightmare for Republicans in October — when the latest shutdown occurred.

The usual right-wing crazies are calling the deal a loser. They gripe about it not cutting enough money from government spending. They want to keep the mandated budget cuts called “sequestration,” which the committee managed to toss aside.

Some lefties also are unhappy, about the failure to provide long-term unemployment insurance for about a million jobless Americans. I happen to agree with their unhappiness — therefore, I won’t call myself “crazy,” if you get my drift.

The House vote, though, did attract a lot of GOP support, which produced the overwhelming victory for common sense and compromise … which ought to be the hallmark of legislating.

I still fear the tea party cabal in the House is going to find a way to torpedo further attempts to make government work. For now, it’s been pushed aside. I’m happy about that.

Budget deal a product of imperfect compromise

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?

Not me.

However, a bipartisan agreement — which still must be approved by Congress — is a sign of progress on Capitol Hill. For that I am grateful.

Yep, another federal budget deadline looms

Happy Monday, everyone. Welcome to the latest Week When All Hell Might Break Loose.

Here’s the good news: The work week ends on Friday the 13th, which is the day U.S. House and Senate budget negotiators are supposed to produce a budget deal that forestalls another government shutdown.

Any takers on whether they get it done?

Well, here we are yet again. We’ve been through one of these government shutdowns already. It lasted 16 days and Republicans took the big hickey on that deal. The “crisis” ended when all the parties agreed to convene a conference committee chaired by two serious lawmakers — Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — to hammer out a new budget deal.

The stakes are big. Absent a budget deal, the government could shut down once more. We hear now about a major sticking point: whether to extend unemployment insurance for long-term jobless Americans. President Obama wants to extend the benefit; his “friends” on the Republican side in Congress, naturally, oppose it.


House Speaker John Boehner is actually making sense, suggesting Republicans could support an extension.

My guess is that the GOP has another — more pragmatic — reason to avoid a shutdown. It involves the Affordable Care Act.

You see, Democrats have lost their political edge over the ACA rollout. All that advantage they had over Republicans because of the shutdown dissipated when the ACA debut crashed and burned because of that faulty website. It gave Republicans loads of fresh meat to gnaw on. They’re still chewing on it and inflicting as much damage as possible on Democrats.

Do Republicans want to surrender that advantage? I don’t think so.

Therefore, I’m almost ready to suggest that the Murray- and Ryan-led committee just might cobble together a budget deal that heads off a government shutdown.

Talks to head off shutdown to begin … maybe

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are considered two moderate voices within their respective parties.

They now chair an ad hoc collection of senators called the “Common Sense Caucus.” Their mission is to head off another federal government partial shutdown.


Will they succeed? Well, their only chance to succeed will occur if the real negotiators fail to do their job. They have until Dec. 13 to produce a deal to fund the government. That group is led by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. It comprises equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, as charged in the deal that ended the first government shutdown in October.

Personally, I’m not holding my breath for anything substantive. I’m betting they’ll nibble around the edges of the larger issue — which must include a long-term tax increase along with serious budget cuts in programs no one wants to cut, such as Medicare.

Heck, I’m not even holding out for any serious hope Congress can avoid another shutdown.

We’ve seen this act many times already. Everyone says they want to work together. Then they quarrel and bicker, taking the nation to the brink of fiscal collapse.

Collins and Manchin are reasonable folks. So are Murray and Ryan. Among the four of them, can’t they come up with a reasonable long-term solution to this ridiculous spectacle?

Attention now turns to budget panels

Let us now focus our attention on some members of Congress — from both political parties — who have been given the task of working out a long-term federal budget agreement that prevents charades such as the one that just ended.


Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan — who chair the Senate and House budget committees, respectively — are going to begin talking between themselves. They’re both serious politicians (no irony intended, honest) but their task is monumental, given the institutional refusal of both legislative chambers to adopt any kind of strategic approach to these problems.

We came within a few hours this week of defaulting on our nation’s debt obligations. The two-week-long government shutdown sucked an estimated $24 billion from the nation’s economy. It turns out we’ll pay our bills and the government has reopened fully.

President Obama signed the bills into law late Wednesday and said the end of this budget battle removes the “cloud of unease” that had been hovering over the financial world.

I beg to differ, Mr. President.

The unease has just taken a brief respite. It’ll likely return in January and again in February. The money to run the government runs out in January; our borrowing limit expires in February. Many of us out here believe we’ll be right back at it again when those deadlines approach.

Of the two budget panel chairs, Ryan has the more difficult task, given the role the tea party wing of the GOP — of which he is a member — played in prolonging the ridiculous drama that unfolded. The House Republican caucus will continue to fight to eradicate the Affordable Care Act, which only just now has been implemented. They don’t like it and predict all kinds of catastrophe will befall the nation if it is allowed to live on.

Ryan is considered to be a serious and thoughtful young man. I’m withholding my final judgment on him. I’m not sure he’ll be able to resist the enormous pressure he’ll feel from the extreme right wing of his party, although I retain some faith he’ll be able to work constructively with Democrats on his committee and with the likes of Chairwoman Murray in the Senate.

Here’s a bit of advice from out here in the Heartland. Work until you get a deal. You have no need to take extended recesses between now and Christmas. You have much to do and the public — into whose faces you spit when you closed much of the federal government — pay you folks a pretty fair wage to solve these problems.

Finally, Democrats and Republicans can learn from the memories of two presidents — Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Both men knew how to work the system. They perfected the art of principled compromise.

Now … let’s get busy.