Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden released the following reaction to the two-year budget agreement unveiled yesterday evening by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA):
The budget deal announced last night by Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan is a step in the right direction toward more sensible economic and fiscal policy. The never-ending budget battles from the last several years have hurt the country and resulted in damaging austerity cuts. These cuts, especially the sequester, have meant enormous reductions in funding for key economic investments such as education and scientific research. They have also cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.
This deal will offer some partial relief from those misguided cuts. Almost as important, it will remove the risk of another damaging showdown over the federal budget for several years. These are real achievements, and they were made possible because Sen. Murray and Rep. Ryan focused on areas of common ground rather than trying to solve all of our fiscal challenges in one fell swoop. Earlier this year, we urged Congress to take just such an approach in our report, “It’s Time to Hit the Reset Button on the Fiscal Debate.”
But it must also be noted that this deal could have been far better if not for continued conservative opposition to closing unnecessary and wasteful tax loopholes. Instead of asking middle-class workers to shoulder a larger share of the burden of retirement, we could have addressed tax loopholes like the carried interest provision. And we certainly could have found enough savings from outdated tax subsidies to corporations and the extremely wealthy to offset a larger portion of the sequester this year and next, or even to invest in our future by funding pre-K or upgrading our crumbling infrastructure. It is also extremely unfortunate that the deal does not include an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, especially since the package contains extra deficit reduction that is enough to almost fully offset the cost of a UI extension.
Nevertheless, even small steps in the right direction are still very welcome. And now that Congress has finally settled on spending levels for the next several years, it can turn its full attention to solving our immediate and pressing economic challenges: creating good jobs, bolstering the middle class, and reforming our broken immigration system.