The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 12, 2013

House Republicans get behind budget agreement

Deal would remove some automatic sequester cuts, ultimately keep deficit in check

(Continued)

Ryan said Thursday the accommodation was modest but that it moves a fiscally challenged and divided government "in the right direction."

In appearances on morning news shows, he said the political deal was necessary to help get the economy on a firmer footing at a time when the Federal Reserve Board apparently is set to wind down its bond-buying stimulus program.

Ryan called it a start toward fiscal responsibility while acknowledging that "I don't see any difference in the likelihood of a grand bargain" on taxes and spending.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said that "much of the spending increase in this deal has been justified by increased fees and new revenue. In other words, it's a fee increase to fuel a spending increase, rather than reducing deficits."

The Ryan-Murray pact uses a combination of mostly low-profile cuts and the new fee revenues, much of which won't occur until after the turn of the next decade, to ease cuts mandated by the inability of Congress and the White House to follow up a 2011 budget pact with additional deficit cuts.

Those cuts were intended to be so fearsome that they would force the capital's warring factions to make budget peace. Instead, after the first-year impact of so-called sequestration wasn't as bad as advertised, many Republicans have come to embrace them. The Ryan-Murray deal recognizes that the second year of the automatic cuts would be worse than the first, especially for the Pentagon, and seeks to ease their pain.

Two of Ryan's potential rivals if he seeks the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — are against the measure.

On Wednesday, Ryan briefed members of the Republican rank and file in private on the deal, then emerged to tell reporters it "helps produce more certainty because it stops a potential government shutdown in January and it stops a potential government shutdown in October" of next year.

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