Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Stink Of Washington

While the Senate is still wrapping up business today in Washington, the key vote on the bipartisan budget mess that is the two-year Ryan/Murray deal happened on Tuesday. Sixty-seven Senators voted to advance the measure to its final vote - more than two-thirds of the Senate - meaning the bill is highly likely to pass.

As we wrote and cartooned about last week, and as both Rep Ryan and Sen. Murray have confirmed, the budget bill is legislation that both sides are unhappy with. Even so, like the skunk at the garden party, both Republicans and Democrats will hold up this budget bill next year as a success they captured together.

Truthfully, Republicans got the upper hand - and their desperation to find something in the bill that they dislike proves it.

As Dana Milbank pointed out in the Washington Post, Republicans on Capitol Hill have really been in a bind about the budget bill, having to dig down to a relatively minor percentage-point reduction in the cost of living for military veterans to find something to complain about. Of course, if the Republicans in Congress had been willing to actually find or generate the revenue necessary to tackle that issue seriously, that cost to retired veterans wouldn't have been an issue. Of course, such agreement also wouldn't have allowed Republicans in Congress to posture while they attempt to take the nation hostage again in early 2014.

Still, our Federal government has a budget, for the first time in years, a feat that nominally shows Congress actually works - though as both Greg Sargent and Katrina vanden Heuvel pointed out on Tuesday, that's an incredibly low bar that truly deserves no applause.

We're willing to guarantee that members of both major parties will, at some point in 2014, applaud their own efforts on this budget, as a reason to show how responsible and bipartisan they are. Indeed, as Katrina points out, official Washington - including the President - have already been patting themselves on the back about how good it is that something was able to finally be accomplished.

That the "something" is horribly flawed and "fixes" a problem Congress itself created, while not actually fixing the real problems of millions of Americans, is something you're not likely to hear Congressmembers bring up in this next election year.

Indeed, as Greg Sargent went on to point out, and as Johnathan Chait noted earlier this year, the major problem Congress didn't fix in this budget deal is that a small minority in the House is still holding off majorities in both chambers from accomplishing far more.

In truth, Americans and the things most of us want - a strong economic recovery, smart immigration reform, smart gun safety laws, a more equal tax and economic structure - are already being held hostage, as they have been since Republicans took over the House after the 2010 elections. That Rep. Paul Ryan is threatening to hold the nation even more hostage is a weak threat, with even fewer teeth.

For now, this stinking animal of a budget will likely pass, and - for what it's worth - neither side will be able to applaud or cheerlead against the other side on new budget votes for another two years.

Go Congress.

No, really - go Congress. Before you fools "accomplish" anything else.