- - Sunday, December 15, 2013

There is no glory to be found for anyone in the two-year federal spending blueprint negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and presented to their congressional colleagues at the 11th hour (“New budget accord saves $23 billion — after $65 billion spending spree,” Web, Dec. 10). Both parties dug in their heels, thus little of any substance was accomplished. We shall continue to fail to address our burgeoning national debt and unsustainable entitlement programs. No “grand bargain” was expected, and none emerged.

Discretionary spending had been slated to be $967 billion for the 2014 fiscal year. The Murray-Ryan plan boosts it to $1.012 trillion, an increase of about 4 percent, and it serves to undo parts of the sequestration, which forced reductions in all facets of federal spending, something that was too much for either party to endure.

The plan increases taxes on airline travelers, who are already subjected to levy upon levy. The greater the number of taxes and fees for which fliers are responsible, the harder it is for airlines to turn a profit.

Whether the plan can garner sufficient bipartisan support to pass is up in the air, but even if it does, it is not a proud moment for our nation (notwithstanding the fact that it puts off any possibility of government shutdown for the immediate future). The alliance that created this plan is symptomatic of the type of government we have come to expect, and one that would have been anathema to the Founding Fathers. It is “kick-the-can-down-the-road” governance, and it is irresponsible.

OREN M. SPIEGLER
Upper St. Clair, Pa.