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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Filling out the budget agreement scorecard -- By David Keene, The Washington Times

 (Illustration by Linas Garsys)

Dissatisfied players in both parties grumble and hope for a cleaner win next time 

Illustration by Linas Garsys/The Washington TimesBaseball fans were on the edge of their seats last week hoping for news that their favorite teams would come out of Major League Baseball's winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., as winners. As the meetings ended, sportswriters began analyzing the deals made and noting as they do every year that the best deals are those that help both sides, where a team with more starting pitchers than it really needs, for example, trades one for a power hitter to a team with great hitting and no pitching.

Most trades don't turn out that way. The future performance of the players is hard to predict, and sometimes, one side gets the better of the other. Meanwhile, fans watch, second-guess, curse and hope for the best.

The budget deal engineered by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan that passed the House last week could have been cut in Orlando. Political analysts and junkies, like their baseball counterparts, are trying to figure out who really won and if the future promised by the deal makers will actually come to pass.

It appears that when it reaches the Senate floor this week, virtually every Democrat will vote for it, along with enough Republicans to guarantee passage. The Democrats think they did better than the Republicans because they'll get to spend more money next year and at least have partially broken the budget caps and sequestration that have brought a modicum of discipline to congressional profligacy over the past few years.

No one is particularly happy, but both parties want to get the budget fight behind them, head home for Christmas, and brag to disgruntled voters that Congress is not quite as dysfunctional as popularly believed. Though welcomed by insiders who applaud compromise for its own sake, this deal isn't going to help them make that case.

It doesn't really address the short- or long-term fiscal crisis facing the country. The dollars involved amount to very, very little, given the size of the deficit, the burgeoning debt and our bleak fiscal future. If this is what those representing us call progress, we are in real trouble.

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