5 Things to Know About the New Budget Deal

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Well, here we go again: a group from congress has unveiled their latest plan for a budget deal. At least this time the plan is for a whole two years, rather than merely kicking the can of a comprehensive budget deal a few months down the road, as has been standard operating procedure in Washington for years now. Lawmakers are up against a December 13th deadline, and it actually looks like they might just get it done this time. And as the current (and much maligned) budget agreement expires in the middle of January, we certainly hope they do.

5 This New Budget Deal Will End the Sequester

Included in the budget plan being considered in Washington this week is as much as $63 billion worth of “sequester relief” spending. The sequester, as you’ll recall, is the slew of automatic spending cuts that went into effect when lawmakers failed to pass a budget earlier in the year. They were cuts so austere and unpopular they were meant to force a compromise. That failed, but perhaps this new deal can undo some of the sting the sequester, which included government employee furloughs, cancelled medical studies and, curtailed environmental programs, and more.

4 The Budget Deal Does Not Confront the Debt Ceiling Debate

The federal debt ceiling a construct that has caused no end of frustration. In simplest terms, it is a limit on the amount of money the government can borrow (AKA “go into debt”) to pay for programs, purchases and so forth. Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling if it ever approaches the preordained limit, which it does year after year. The issue with this setup is that the debt ceiling risks curtailing payments for expenditures that have already taken place (or are ongoing). Not raising the debt ceiling is the veritable equivalent of rejecting the bill the waiter brings you after enjoying the meal, but in this case “the meal” is more like defense spending, NTSB funding, NIH studies and so forth.

3 The Proposed Budget Deal Would Raise Taxes on Air Travel

The government has to find more money somewhere. One of the ways they are proposing to do so is by raising the “aviation security fee” by 124%. Don’t worry too much though, that increase actually only amounts to a charge of $5.60 for a one-way trip or $11.20 for roundtrip air travel. Notably, this increased revenue does not go to the TSA, despite that agency’s budget shortfall issues, but rather into a general treasury fund.

2 The Budget Deal Is Truly Bi-Partisan

The budget deal being debated this week has a genuine shot at smooth passage thanks to champions from either side of the proverbial aisle; that is, the agreement has backers from both the GOP and the Democrats. The former is none other than 2012 VP candidate and renowned fiscal conservative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Leading the charge for the Democrats is Senator Patty Murray of Washington State. With support from both parties and in both houses of Congress, this deal feels destined for the President’s desk.

1 President Obama Supports the Deal

The President has indicated that he would sign off on the current budget plan were it to reach his desk, giving the deal the modest praise of being “a good first step.” The agreement is a compromise between increased revenue and spending cuts, and it is no lawmaker’s ideal plan, but thus being the nature of compromise, it is the best plan with a real shot at becoming law.

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