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

    Merrimack County is named after the Merrimack River and is home to the states capital, Concord. Merrimack County has a total area of 956 square miles and a population of 146,761.

  • 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

    Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.

  • 20. Barnstable County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90

    Total contributions: $2,348,541

    Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.

  • 19. Berkshire County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49

    Total contributions: $1,624,400

    Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724. 

  • 18. Essex County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22

    Total contributions: $9,991,201

    Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.

  • 17. Chittendon County, VT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.86

    Total contributions: $2,196,107

    Chittenden has a population of 158,504, making it Vermont’s most populated county. Chittenden’s largest city is Burlington, which has about one third of Vermont’s total population.

  • 16. Lamoille County, VT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $14.82

    Total contributions: $369,854

    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

    Cumberland County has a population of 283,921 and is Maine’s most populated county. The county was named after the William, Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II.

  • 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

    Total contributions: $1,012,10

    Created in 1840, Carroll County has a population of 47,567. Carroll County was also named after Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.

  • 8. LItchfield County, CT

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $22.86

    Total contributions: $4,286,143

    Although it is Connecticut’s largest county, Litchfield has the lowest population density in all of Connecticut. Since 1960 all Connecticut counties have no county government.

  • 7. Middlesex County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81

    Total contributions: $50,432,154

    Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England.  The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.

  • 6. Nantucket County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41

    Total contributions: $344,021

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  • 5. Norfolk County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $35.87

    Total contributions: $24,459,854

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  • 4. Dukes County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32

    Total contributions: $618,960

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  • 3. Suffolk County, MA

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73

    Total contributions: $30,323,537

    Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.

  • 2. Knox County, ME

    Contributions, per capita, 2012: $45.89

    Total contributions: $1,820,410

    Knox County was established on April 1st, 1860 and was named after American Revolutionary War General Henry Knox.  The county has a population of 39,668 and is the home of the Union Fair.

  • 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.