Rob Horowitz: At Last: A National Budget Agreement

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The fact that a bi-partisan budget compromise easily cleared the House and Senate is a genuine cause for celebration, according to Rob Horowitz.
Throughout most of our nation’s history the fact that a federal budget agreement was reached and passed both Houses of Congress would be considered a routine matter—one not worthy of much attention. In today’s sharply polarized, partisan and gridlocked national politics, however, the fact that a bi-partisan budget compromise easily cleared the Senate this past week 64-36 after running up an impressive 332-94 margin in the House, is a genuine cause for celebration.

Coming together

This measure, which provides a two year budget framework, is the product of a successful and constructive negotiation between Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative and recent Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI). It tempers some of the worst impacts of the sequester restoring some funding to discretionary domestic and military programs, while providing a small measure of long-term debt reduction.

Realizing the huge political hit his party took as a result of an ill-advised and highly unpopular government shut down this past fall, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and his leadership team put all of their political muscle behind the compromise and were handsomely rewarded with an overwhelming victory. Declaring his independence from hard line conservative groups who were strongly opposing the compromise, Boehner went on the attack, saying the groups were "misleading their followers” and “that they had lost all credibility”: The organizations, including Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth, were also strong advocates of the debacle of shutting down the government unless the President agreed to delay implementation of Obamacare for a year.

A hopeful sign

As we head into the New Year, this admittedly modest compromise offers some hope that the partisan gridlock, which has stalled progress on so many critical issues facing our nation, may ease a bit. The first critical test for when Congress returns after a break for Christmas and New Year’s is whether an agreement can be reached on an emergency extension of unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million Americans who are scheduled to lose them at the end of this year.

While the economy is improving somewhat, the unemployment rate remains high. It is essential to continue to provide this lifeline to individuals and families who are truly on the edge. A compromise that brings along a sufficient number of Republicans by finding some offsetting down- the- road spending reductions is achievable.

The adoption of this budget compromise—the first budget adopted since 2009—signals a constructive shift toward searching for common ground among House Republicans that seem no longer willing to let the Tea Party 'just say no wing' march them off a cliff. This new opening must be seized by leaders of both parties so that they can get back to actually doing the people’s business. That is a not unreasonable hope for the New Year.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

  • 25. Merrimack County, NH

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.86

    Total contributions: $1,447,713

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  • 24. Cheshire County, NH

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88

    Total contributions: $759,209

    Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

     
  • 23. Rockingham County, NH

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.96

    Total contributions: $2,965,530

    Rockingham has 37 communities and has a population of 297,820. Rockingham County also was home to the famous poet, Robert Frost

     
  • 22. Belknap County, NH

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.02

    Total contributions: $604,512

    Belknap County is one of the ten counties in New Hampshire and has a population of 60,327. It is located in the center of New Hampshire and the largest city is Laconia.

     
  • 21. Hampshire County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41

    Total contributions: $1,664,077

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  • 20. Barnstable County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90

    Total contributions: $2,348,541

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  • 19. Berkshire County, MA

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    Total contributions: $1,624,400

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  • 18. Essex County, MA

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  • 17. Chittendon County, VT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.86

    Total contributions: $2,196,107

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  • 16. Lamoille County, VT

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    Lamoille County was founded in 1835 and has a population of 24,958. The county has 464 square miles, of which 461 of them are land.

     
  • 15. Addison County, VT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49

    Total contributions: $569,299

    Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.

     
  • 14. Newport County, RI

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $16.02

    Total contributions: $1,214,26

    Newport County is one of the five Rhode Island Counties and was founded in 1703. Just like Connecticut, none of Rhode Island counties have an any governmental functions.

     
  • 13. Cumberland County, ME

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $18.33

    Total contributions: $5,205,507

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  • 12. Windsor County, VT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.57

    Total contributions: $1,156,149

    Windsor County is the largest county in Vermont and consists of 971 square miles of land and 5 square miles of water.

     
  • 11. Bristol County, RI

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91

    Total contributions: $1,027,472

    Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.

     
  • 10. Grafton County, NH

    Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95

    Total contributions: $1,868,739

    With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area 

     
  • 9. Carrol County, NH

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: 2012: $22.81

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  • 8. LItchfield County, CT

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  • 7. Middlesex County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81

    Total contributions: $50,432,154

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  • 2. Knox County, ME

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  • 1. Fairfield County, CT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $55.65.  

    Total contributions: $51,970,701 

    In a population of 933,835, Fairfield County is the most densely populated county in Connecticut, and contains four of the state's largest cities -- Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk and Danbury.