It takes away less than 10 percent of the sequester’s willy-nilly cuts to the federal budget. It has a shelf life of about two years. And it does nothing to prevent another debt-ceiling fight, which is likely on its way in early 2014.
We send our leaders to Washington to solve big problems. This deal is a minor tweak with an expiration date.
That’s not to completely dismiss the compromise worked out by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Even a drop of water is appreciated in Washington’s arid desert of non-accomplishment. The deal, which passed the House last week and passed the Senate Wednesday, represents a step in the right direction.
It proved handy to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Boehner has the misfortune of ruling a House majority that is difficult, if not impossible, to corral.
The Tea Party Republicans in the House mistrust Boehner almost as much as they mistrust President Barack Obama. They, along with conservative think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation, have made life miserable for Boehner, pushing and pulling the longtime politician in directions he knows will fail.
So, when these same extremists started making noise about the Murray-Ryan deal, the Ohio Republican let loose with both barrels against the groups propping up the Tea Party.
“They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said last week. “This is ridiculous. If you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
We expect this outburst made Boehner feel better. His mood was likely raised even higher upon seeing the House approve the Murray-Ryan bill 332-94.
Boehner appears to be a politician seeking the art of the possible. Those instincts have been curbed by far-right elements within his own party; so much so that during a 2010 “60 Minutes” interview, the speaker couldn’t bring himself to favorably mention the word “compromise.” Yet, Boehner understands that “no compromise” is a losing position for true conservatives.
Perhaps the best benefit of Murray-Ryan might be to sideline the extremists so Republicans and Democrats can start working together on big problems.