By Robert A. Vella
Washington D.C. is one of the last places in the world where people would expect to see rational, sensible, and cooperative leadership. This seat of American federal power is a cesspool of irresponsibility and corruption. But, every once in a while, a little sanity manages to shine through from its dark, secretive walls. Such appears to be the case today as outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner reached a nearly two-year budget and debt ceiling agreement with President Obama. If passed, and it does look now that it will pass, the looming threat of another government shutdown and/or financial default will be averted until well after the 2016 presidential election.
If this seems like a minor victory for sensible government, that assessment would be appropriate in a historical context; however, considering its current dysfunctional state, this agreement represents a rather significant achievement for the nation’s political system in addition to dealing an embarrassing blow to the right-wing extremist Tea Party which had pinned its hopes of emasculating the federal government through the tactics of shutdown/default.
Using a boxing analogy, we could say that The Establishment knocked down the Tea Party in the 7th round of a 12-round championship fight.
It is also clear now why Boehner decided to resign from Congress. He knew that passing this cooperative deal with “moderate” Republicans and Democrats would ruin any chance of him holding on to the speakership. The radical Tea Party members in his caucus (a.k.a. the House Freedom Caucus) would have turned against him en masse. So, it can be said that Boehner politically fell-on-his-own-sword in order to keep the government stable and to aid his party’s presidential aspirations. He definitely should be commended for this sacrificial move even though progressives – like myself – have neither approved of his performance in office nor approved of The Establishment’s clandestine opposition to our leftist politics.
From Yahoo News – House GOP leaders reach budget deal with Obama White House:
WASHINGTON (AP) — House GOP leaders struck a budget deal made with the White House just before midnight Monday aimed at averting a government shutdown and forestalling a debt crisis.
Speaker John Boehner is making one final appeal to restive Republicans: Pass the hard-won agreement with President Barack Obama before Rep. Paul Ryan assumes the speaker’s job later this week. But he encountered immediate resistance when he laid out the plan Monday night. His plan is for members to vote on the deal Wednesday.
The budget pact, in concert with a must-pass increase in the federal borrowing limit, would solve the thorniest issues awaiting Ryan, who is set to be elected speaker on Thursday.
The deal would also take budget showdowns and government shutdown fights off the table until after the 2016 presidential election, a potential boon to Republican candidates who might otherwise face uncomfortable questions about messes in the GOP-led Congress.
From the Huffington Post – The Budget Deal To End All Obama Budget Deals Is Here. Read The Details.:
Under the arrangement detailed by congressional aides, the debt limit, predicted to be hit on Nov. 3, would be extended into March 2017 — well into the next president’s term.
Additionally, over the next two years, government spending would rise $80 billion above the caps that sequestration currently allows. That money would be doled out evenly between defense and non-defense accounts, with $50 billion budgeted for the first year and $30 billion for the second.
On top of that, the bill would include $32 billion for the overseas contingency fund — a veritable piggybank for administrations to cover the costs of wars — split over the next two years. That would bring the deal’s total spending increase to $112 billion over two years.
A congressional aide noted that these spending levels are far greater than the $63 billion from two years of sequestration relief passed during the last deal hammered out by Rep. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murrary (D-Wash.) at the end of 2013. Unlike that deal, this one has been negotiated largely in secret between top leaders from each chamber.