Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama make one last deal.
Thanks Obama! Way to make the final point on our Paul Ryan piece obsolete! It’s as if you’re trying to make fools of us! Anyway, it looks as if Congress and the White House have come to terms on a budget. What are the broader strokes? Does it include the dreaded debt ceiling? Do senior citizens really love this deal more than JAG and Wheel of Fortune combined!? Here’s what you should take away from the recent budget deal.
Point 1: Congress (ie Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) and the White House (ie Lead Congressional Democrats and President Obama) look to have reached an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and funding the government through March 2017.
Point 2: The agreement is a two-year deal that increases the federal budget by $80 billion over two years and raises the federal borrowing limit till 2017. So government default and/or government shutdown avoided!
Point 3: The budget is equally divided between defense and domestic programs with $50 billion the first year and $30 billion in the second.
Point 4: In that, an extra $16 billion has been put into the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund. Think of it as a slush fund for when shit needs to be blown up by the Pentagon.
Point 5: The majority of increases in the budget came from changes to the Social Security disability insurance fund and Medicare payments to doctors and other healthcare providers. In plain English, major funding provisions for both were cut.
Point 6: Along with cuts, new revenue streams are to be created that include selling oil from strategic oil reserves, pushing for more audits on large business partnerships, and auctioning off large portions of the government’s broadcast spectrum.
Point 7: As stated earlier, senior citizens look to be the biggest winners of this budget. Some of those who receive Social Security and Medicare payments – an estimated seven million seniors – would have experienced a large premium hike of up to 52% more of what they’re currently paying. In this year’s budget, law makers essentially loaned Medicare beneficiaries billions in avoiding a spike to their premiums. It’s not all roses however; seniors will have to pay higher premiums over time to make up the “loan” Congress just gave them.
Point 8: People that aren’t happy however are House Conservatives in the Far-Right (ie The Freedom Caucus). Many of them feel they were left out of the budget talks – that’s because they purposefully were – while others feel they could have gotten more by using the November 3rd debt ceiling deadline as leverage. The new incoming House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan also sounds a little annoyed from being left out of the budget talks.
Point 9: For Speaker Boehner and President Obama, the budget deal couldn’t have gone better from a political end. For President Obama, this would be the last budget deal that his administration would ever have to hash out, since it would last to March 2017. As for Speaker Boehner, it’s a smart play from Establishment Republicans, because they avoid similar outcomes to a 2013 Government Shutdown – where GOP ratings fell harshly – by agreeing to a two-year budget deal. And hey, would you look at that, the budget lasts through the 2016 presidential election, what a coincidence!
Point 10: Policy wise, both the Democrats and Republicans made concessions in the 2016 budget and in many ways, it represents true congressional compromise. Whether it will pass both the Senate and the House still remains to be seen, but considering the majority of Democrats and almost all the moderate-Republicans have said they will accept the bill, the budget should pass both chambers. However in terms of healing the divide within the GOP, that’s still far from settled.
(Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov, Google Images)