A Least Bad Budget Deal

Review & Outlook

A Least Bad Budget Deal

More spending now for some genuine, if modest, reforms.

Dec. 10, 2013 11:20 p.m. ET
The best that can be said about the House-Senate budget deal announced late Tuesday is that it includes no tax increases, no new incentives for not working, and some modest entitlement reforms. Oh, and it will avoid another shutdown fiasco, assuming enough Republicans refuse to attempt suicide a second time.

The worst part of the two-year deal is that it breaks the 2011 Budget Control Act’s discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The deal breaks the caps by some $63 billion over the two years and then re-establishes the caps starting in 2016 where they are in current law at $1.016 trillion. Half of the increase will go to defense and half to the domestic accounts prized by Democrats.

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Breaking the caps is a victory for Senate Democrats and House Republican Appropriators like Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, who will get more money to spend and will dodge another continuing resolution that doesn’t allow them to set spending priorities. It would be nice to think they’ll spend the money on such useful purposes as cancer or Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health. But they will also get to dole out pork. The deal means overall federal spending will not decline in 2014 as it has the last two years.

WIsconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Sen. Patty Murray in a press conference on the budget plan. Bloomberg News Continue reading “A Least Bad Budget Deal”

Expect Sequestration to Hit Much Harder in 2014, Report Says

Expect Sequestration to Hit Much Harder in 2014, Report Says

USDA was able to avoid furloughing meat inspectors in 2013.
USDA was able to avoid furloughing meat inspectors in 2013. Michael A. Mariant/AP file photo

Less severe cuts, deferred costs and temporary solutions mitigated sequestration’s effect in its inaugural year, but will not help lessen the impact in 2014, according to a new report.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said the tactics federal agencies used to reduce furloughs in fiscal 2013 are, in many cases, no longer available. In fact, they will largely accentuate the severity of the cuts this time around.

For example, Congress allowed the Federal Aviation Administration to move funds from an account meant to provide maintenance to airports nationwide to avoid furloughs of air traffic controllers that would have delayed flights. Similar budgetary “gimmicks” were employed at the Agriculture Department to stave off furloughs of meat inspectors and by the Justice Department, which has already announced plans of 10 furlough days for FBI agents in 2014.

Continue reading “Expect Sequestration to Hit Much Harder in 2014, Report Says”

Government Shutdown 2013: What’s changing, what’s not

Government Shutdown 2013: What’s changing, what’s not

By The Associated Press
October 1, 2013 – 07:05 am

WASHINGTON (AP) – Campers in national parks are to pull up stakes and leave, some veterans waiting to have disability benefits approved will have to cool their heels even longer, many routine food inspections will be suspended and panda-cams will go dark at the shuttered National Zoo.

Those are among the immediate effects when parts of the government shut down Tuesday because of the budget impasse in Congress.

In this time of argument and political gridlock, a blueprint to manage federal dysfunction is one function that appears to have gone smoothly. Throughout government, plans are ready to roll out to keep essential services running and numb the impact for the public. The longer a shutdown goes on, the more it will be felt in day-to-day lives and in the economy as a whole.

A look at what is bound to happen, and what probably won’t: Continue reading “Government Shutdown 2013: What’s changing, what’s not”

The Shutdown’s Squeeze On Science And Health

by NPR Staff October 01, 2013 6:41 PM

This image was posted by NASA to the agency's official Instagram account.This image was to the agency’s official Instagram account.

NASA/Getty Images

In addition to shutdowns of (including Alcatraz Island and Yosemite) and the supplemental nutrition program for , the mandatory furloughs are affecting a science and health agencies. Here’s a snapshot:


The “most painful consequence [of the shutdown for National Institutes of Health] is for the clinical center, the largest research hospital in the world” says NIH Director Francis Collins. Many of the hospital’s patients have cancer, a rare genetic disease or a serious infection that hasn’t been relieved elsewhere, Collins says. But Tuesday NIH had to close its doors to new patients. “How would you feel as a parent of a child with cancer,” Collins asks, “hoping that somehow NIH and its clinical center might provide some rescue from a very difficult situation, to hear that, frankly, you can’t come, because the government won’t be able to stay open.”

More specifically at the NIH clinical center:

  • No new studies will be started. Four had been slated to begin this week, but won’t if the shutdown continues.
  • No new patients will be enrolled in any of the 1,437 studies now underway. Roughly 500of those are studying new drugs and devices, and of those 255 are looking at cancer treatments for adults and children.
  • The hospital’s reduced staff will continue to care for existing patients, but new patients will not be admitted unless the NIH Clinical Center’s director deems it medically necessary.

Meanwhile, workers will show up to feed and care for animals in NIH labs, but basic research conducted by NIH scientists there will stop. Continue reading “The Shutdown’s Squeeze On Science And Health”

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Shutdown

The Wall Street JournalWhat to Expect When You’re Expecting a Shutdown

European Pressphoto Agency U.S. Marines march in review during the POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., this month.

Originally published on Sept. 24 and subsequently updated.

As the U.S. nears an Oct. 1 deadline for a partial government shutdown, the Office of Management and Budget has directed federal agencies to prepare contingency plans should a shutdown occur. Here, we tell you what to expect from a partial temporary shutdown, drawing on agencies’ plans and information from the last time the government shut down in 1995 and 1996.

We will update this list as more information becomes available.

How will travel and transportation be affected?

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
An US Airways Airbus A320 airplane takes off from a runway at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Air traffic control is expected to continue, in addition to airport and airplane safety inspections.  All Federal Highway Administration activities will also continue. Continue reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Shutdown”