Dan Thomasson: Towards constructive bipartisanship?

Scripps Howard News Service Published:

But it is recognition by concerned leaders in both camps that Americans are becoming fed up with a Congress that has stifled any resolution to most of the nation's problems, putting personal interests above those of the country. So the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee and the Democratic chairman of the Senate's budget panel, not normally on the same wave length, turned months of conversations into a detent that if nothing else would postpone the warfare for the time being.

The agreement reached between Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington would mean at least an end to the threat of another government shutdown until at least 2015. About $63 billion in federal sequester cuts would be restored. Deficits would be reduced by $22 billion over 10 years. There would be no extension of long-term benefits for the unemployed and pensions would be trimmed for military retirees and for new federal workers.

More importantly, however, it may offer some further opportunity for constructive bipartisanship on fiscal issues instead of mindless, snot nosed bickering.

We have been assured that nevertheless the radicals on the Right and Left will go along and adopt the agreement. How long this will last is beyond the intellect of most of us to say. But guessing honed by decades of observing close up, leads me to predict not terribly long given the upcoming election next fall and the probability for outside agitation by ideologically driven special interest groups like the newly formed Heritage Action committee which seems to have displaced its mother house, the venerable conservative policy formulating Heritage Foundation, in importance and motivation under former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, a tea party leader.

Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential nominee and a likely seeker of the main job in 2016, called the agreement "a way to get our government functioning at its basic levels." That's hard to dispute given recent history.

The glimmer of hope for enough accord to avoid the destructive forces that have threatened to set back productive government almost to the status of a second Civil War is heartening if not terribly realistic in the long term. As the electioneering begins for the midterm balloting less than a year from now a divided Congress is almost a certainty to continue. Republican senators up for reelection face primary fights from ultra conservative candidates that probably will impede the GOP's chances of capturing the upper chamber. When you throw into the mix those seeking position early as presidential candidates, the future of bipartisanship looks rather bleak.

Still, by merely giving the electorate any respite from the threat of Armageddon, the agreement is most welcome for however long it lasts.

It would be nice to at least believe that changes in obvious deficiencies in the Affordable Care Act could be adopted without the rancor and bitterness of the past five years. It would sort of be like what one gets when he plays a country western record backward. He gets his pickup back, he gets his wife back, he gets permanently sober and the train he loves to ride comes back into service.

That of course amounts to the unrealistic Christmas wish list of one who has been on the job long enough to know better-too long perhaps. We have been given a gift and can only hope that unlike the toys we buy for our children it lasts longer than a few weeks. That is if it gets under our tree at all.

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  • Bi-partianship from the top democrat:

    "Earlier this month in an effort to shift attention away from the Obamacare rollout, President Obama pivoted back to something he does best: promoting class warfareunder the guise of caring about equality. Liberals claim to care about the poor, but the harsh reality is that Democrats have been in control of the poorest parts of the country for 50 years and very little has changed.

    Over the weekend, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made this point as former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich tried to pin an increase in poverty under Obama on Republicans.

    "Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city. Their policies failed, they're not willing to admit it and the fact is it's the poor who suffer from bad government," " KP, Townhall.com

  • The partial government shutdown was far from Armageddon.  This proposed budget is just to defer the issue until after the 2014 elections. Both the repub democrats and democrats are corrupt and rotten to the core. They only care about how to retain their power and stranglehold over America.

    In fact this budget does nothing more than still increase spending and add new taxes. No future Congress is going to honor the proposed reductions in the increase in spending in the year 2022.

    When are these elete politicians going to honor their oath of office and stop spening our children and their children and their children's future?