Congress is currently operating under a budget agreement that represents an enormous compromise for progressives. At the end of 2013, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) negotiated spending levels for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. That agreement cut spending below the levels agreed to in earlier budget compromises, which had already locked in drastic cuts.
The Murray-Ryan agreement limits discretionary spending to $1.014 trillion for FY 2015. That is better than allowing sequestration to continue, but it was a huge concession. The Murray-Ryan deal cut FY 2015 discretionary spending well below the pre-sequester levels Congress agreed to in the Budget Control Act, which was negotiated to end the debt limit standoff in 2011. The Murray-Ryan deal even cut spending by more than Rep. Ryan originally called for in the budget he wrote after Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections.
For more on this topic, please see:
- The Fiscal Debate in Context by Harry Stein