President Obama hailed the two-year budget deal reached by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as a “good first step.”
If he meant a good first step toward broader reforms needed to put the nation’s finances on sounder footing for the long-term, let’s hope he is right.
It is not clear, however, that Capitol Hill leaders, or the President for that matter, have any plans to follow up this very modest achievement with anything more.
Under the terms of the agreement, spending caps for appropriations would be adjusted upward for 2014 and 2015, resulting in an outlay increase of $62 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
That increase, however, is calculated from the “sequestration” level that neither party ever intended to go into effect. The new caps would still be lower than the original caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and lower than the levels under the Simpson-Bowles plan or the original Ryan budget.
The spending increase would be more than offset by an array of future cuts in mandatory (non-appropriations) spending and higher user fees together totaling $78...