On Tuesday night, the House and Senate Budget Committees reached a bipartisan budget deal. Congress hasn’t passed a budget in five years, but this new deal is hardly good news. The Ryan-Murray budget deal increases spending on domestic programs by $45 billion in 2014 and $18 billion in 2015, totaling $63 billion over the next two years. It blows through the caps set by the Budget Control Act while promising spending reductions down the road over the next 10 years.
Personally, I am wary of accepting a spending increase now for deficit reductions we may not see until 2024, if at all. How can leadership credibly promise spending cuts later, after agreeing to a plan that rolls back the sequestration savings promised two debt increases ago? There’s a predictable pattern here, and it always leaves citizens footing the bill.
Republican leadership argues that conservatives should keep calm because these new spending increases will be offset by fees, including $12.6 billion in higher security fees for airline passengers. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, announced he is “proud” of the deal, saying it reduces the deficit without raising taxes and imposes smart spending cuts that avert the indiscriminate approach of the sequestration.
You’ll be paying more for an airplane ticket, but don’t worry — it’s not a tax. No matter what they call it, the fact remains that government is planning to take more money from you to cover their unsustainable spending habits.
Rather than standing on principle when it counts, Republican leadership has once again sided with the Democrats to increase spending and taxes for short-term political relief, leaving “we the people” to foot the bill.
To add insult to injury, House Speaker John A. Boehner directed his fire away from the big spenders and toward fiscally conservative groups who are actually committed to reducing the debt. In his news conference Wednesday morning, Mr. Boehner lashed out at conservative grass-roots organizations such as FreedomWorks, saying, “They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people, for their own goals,” calling opposition to the deal “ridiculous.”
Mr. Boehner’s real problem here isn’t with conservative groups like FreedomWorks — it’s with millions of individual Americans who vote Republican because they were told the GOP was the party of small government and fiscal responsibility.
After two years of failed negotiations and failed supercommittees, Republicans have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again by surrendering the sequestration, the backup plan to their original budgetary-negotiation backup plan.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, hailed the deal, saying it shows “we can do something without another crisis lurking around the corner.”
While deal-making for the sake of deal-making isn’t a particularly compelling argument for grass-roots conservatives, Mrs. Murray was right about one thing: We have to stop making policy decisions on a crisis-by-crisis basis.
The root of America’s spending problem is the failure of Congress to pass a real budget for five years. Ramming through a bad budget deal in the 11th hour might stave off the immediate, if overblown, threat of a government shutdown in January. However, any budget that gives government more leeway to keep spending is a bum deal for the American people, and merely sets the country up for a bigger crisis down the road.
This budget deal is nothing more than another short-term fix. With more than $17 trillion in national debt, Congress needs to make the necessary long-term cuts and changes now, or future generations will have to face the consequences. That’s why FreedomWorks and other conservative groups have pushed back against the Ryan-Murray budget disappointment, and we will continue driving thousands of messages to Congress to demand a budget that contains serious long-term spending cuts and entitlement reform.
Matt Kibbe is the president and CEO of FreedomWorks and author of “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America” (William Morrow, 2012).