Biting into Sequestration with the Budget Deal

“It looks like a hold-your-nose, vote-yes kind of vote for me.  There are other things I don’t like, but the trade-off is, we do for the first time bite into sequestration,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) 10%.

This remark gets to the heart of the budget agreement reached by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) N/A% and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 7%.  Some lawmakers have been eager to undo sequestration, an imperfect but effective tool at cutting spending, and this budget deal is their opportunity.

The deal provides for a $63 billion spending increase now to be paid for later by a blend of future spending cuts and revenue increases.

Fortunately some lawmakers see the deal for what it is.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) 95% and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) 93% have indicated they will vote against the deal.  Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) 92% said (sub. req’d):

It is the typical end-of-the-year deal I’ve seen from my three years up here. It’s going to increase spending with promise of spending cuts sometime in the future. At the end of the day, it’s going to increase the deficit it’s going to raise taxes and fees, and it’s not going to address the long-term overspending problem in Washington.

Others seem to be buying into the notion that this is a “modest” step in the right direction.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) 85% said:

I’m not sure that the outside groups are going to be able to influence us away from what is really a good step in the right direction. Honestly, I don’t see where we’ve made any major concessions in our values at all, and it looks like the Democrats have actually had to give up on some things.

In reality, the deal does compromise conservative principles — the Heritage Foundation recommended a principled approach to the budget, part of which was to enforce lower levels of spending.  This budget does the opposite; it would lift discretionary spending caps to $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015.

Moreover, it damages the leverage conservatives once had to combat the spending ambitions of the liberal Senate and White House.  As Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham put it:

These members, some Democrat and others Republican, forced the Party of Reagan to throw away spending cuts that could have been used as leverage for serious entitlement reforms or simply kept as savings for the hard-working American taxpayer.

Washington has produced $17 trillion in debt — now is not the time for what supporters of this budget have dubbed a “modest” step in the right direction.  It’s time to honor promises to cut spending.

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