Congratulations to Congress and the American people on the passage of an (almost) budget.
It’s full of compromises, many of them no doubt ugly ones, most of which are so deep in the weeds we will probably never know about them. It was negotiated behind closed doors and in no way reflects a budget produced the way the process is designed to produce one. Hard-liners and back-benchers are complaining that they had no input, and that’s surely so. But even this is a huge improvement over the recent pattern of using budget deadlines and the threat of a government shutdown (or, even worse, a default of the debt) to extort concessions.
And it passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote with pluralities of both parties in both houses voting aye, which is another clue that most of the dysfunction is rooted in a relative few hardliners in one of the parties which I will not name here out of holiday spirit.
“In keeping with a bipartisan compromise,” this morning’s bulletin from the New York Times says, “hashed out in an era of divided government and deep-rooted philosophical differences, all sides claimed victory.” I guess that’s supposed to be a back-handed put-down. But to me, understanding that neither side has the political power to get everything it wants and that our system — more so than almost any system in the democratic world — depends on bipartisan compromise, for both sides to accept things that they dislike is the best way to avoid a much uglier crisis that would lead to an outcome just as full of ugly details or more so.
I don’t understand the internal dynamics of the House Republican caucus very well. Paul Ryan seems, at his core, more conservative than John Boehner. But this deal, coming after two other major compromise bills, raises the possibility, or at least the hope, that the Ryan speakership might be moving the system in a still ugly, but less ugly than before, direction.