The Senate today cleared the way for the expected passage of a two-year budget plan that could avoid a government shut-down next month but reduces the deficit only slightly over the next decade and fails to deal with many critical issues, from the inefficient tax code to the unsustainable entitlement programs.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the agreement — while raising spending caps for the next two years — would reduce deficits by a total of $23 billion from 2014 through 2023. That’s a tiny fraction of the $6.3 trillion in deficit spending in the CBO’s current baseline for the next decade.
The House passed the plan on a bipartisan 332-94 vote shortly before adjourning for the year. Although some prominent GOP senators took shots at the plan in recent days, today the Senate voted 67-33 to end debate and move forward to a final vote, which is expected to take place soon.
Elected officials must follow up this budget deal with much larger efforts to put the nation’s finances on sounder long-term footing, according to Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition.
“The budget deal does not relieve the worsening fiscal strains caused by an aging population, rising health care costs and an inefficient tax code,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Fiscal policy was on an unsustainable path before the deal and it will remain so after the deal.”