The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

December 11, 2013

Bipartisan budget deal sets off some grumbling

WASHINGTON (AP) — Backers of a narrowly drawn budget deal are selling it as a way to stabilize Congress' shaky fiscal practices and mute some of the partisan rancor that has helped send lawmakers' public approval ratings plummeting. But the bipartisan pact doesn't solve long-term tax and spending issues, leaving liberals and conservatives alike grumbling.

House and Senate floor votes are being sought on the plan announced Tuesday by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, and applauded by the White House, with the aim of securing passage before lawmakers go home for the holidays.

But skepticism surfaced in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.

Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and leading deficit hawk, panned the new deal in an interview Wednesday, saying it fails to address core issues of wasteful spending in Washington. He said it was probably "the best" that Ryan and Murray could get at this time. But said he was disappointed in its failure to address core fiscal issues such as duplication and wasteful spending in Washington.

The agreement, among other things, seeks to restore $63 billion in automatic spending cuts affecting programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation's $17 trillion national debt than it is at trying to help a dysfunctional Capitol stop lurching from crisis to crisis. It would set the stage for action in January on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill for the budget year that began in October.

The measure unveiled by Ryan, R-Wis., and Murray, D-Wash., blends $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees — but no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries — to replace a significant amount of the mandated cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.

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