In the wee hours of Feb. 9, both houses of Congress eventually voted to pass the budget deal — a bipartisan agreement to repeal expenditure limits and fund the government for the next two years, if everything goes to plan. However, Paul’s midnight brinkmanship cast a sour note on its passage.
Paul had a point.
Based on my experience in government and as a professor of budgeting at Harvard, I predict that this latest deal, like most short-term fixes, will cause a lot of pain down the line for younger Americans who will have to pick up the tab. Critics of the budget deal may dub it the “Kick-the-can-down-the-road Act.”
Here’s a breakdown of what the deal will and won’t do, and a brief history of how US lawmakers got into this mess to begin with.
Good News, Bad News
Congress’ budget deal would raise military spending to its highest level in decades and boost most nondefense programs. To pay for this US $300 billion binge, lawmakers have decided to abandon any pretense of fiscal conservatism and borrow whatever it takes. As part of the bargain, Congress will raise the debt limit until March 2019. The agreement should keep the government open for the next two years — leaving members of Congress free to focus on the serious business of campaigning for their midterm elections.
The good news is that government agencies are likely to have some stability after decades of “continuing resolutions,” “fiscal cliffs,” shutdowns, sequestration and debt ceiling brinkmanship. Shutdowns hurt the morale of our civil …read more