- - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

With the new budget agreement making its way through the House and Wednesday through the Senate, centrists from both parties are acting vindicated (“Ryan pleads with conservatives as budget deal heads to Senate,” Web, Dec. 15).

Speaker of the House John A. Boehner’s shockingly smug scolding of any who opposed the new grand bargain seemed calculated to squash the inconvenient constitutionalism of the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, and his ilk. Mr. Boehner was visibly irked at the apparent impracticality of having to do the job that Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution requires of him. Would we today have a passable budget were it not for the threat of another shutdown at the hands of those acting on principle in the House?

Since 1997, when President Clinton signed a grand bargain drawn up with then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, our legislators have learned that there are no political victories to be had in doing this most basic function. Instead, if they quietly avoid the inconvenience of compromise by declaring their political opponents to be reckless and unswerving, the low- information voters who swing elections will lose interest. So the Faustian bargain of the continuing resolution becomes the de facto path forward.

It is true that the president has passed budgets, but he has done so only with the knowledge that they would never actually see light on the floor of the Senate under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. Conversely, the House conservatives have passed budgets year after year. Again, Mr. Reid obstructs the process by refusing to consider these budgets in the Senate, and we are left with the status quo. This is a victory for progressives of both parties who wish to quietly continue spending more than $1 trillion a year more than they take in while defiantly blaming anyone who dares attempt to fix the problem.

Something has changed. The simple truth is that we would not have a budget compromise were it not for Mr. Cruz’s defiant “filibuster” this year. The reason Mr. Ryan and Mrs. Murray acted was to avoid future embarrassment by those who thought they should be doing the job they were hired to do. At the release of the budget compromise, the resounding word from both parties was that they had finally found a way to avoid another government shutdown. In other words, whether they like it or not, Mr. Cruz’s filibuster compelled them to do their jobs.

CHRISTOPHER J. TREACY
Yorktown, Va.