Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Budget deal reported, but conservatives won't be happy

House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama have reportedly agreed on a two-year spending deal that would also include an increase in the nation's debt ceiling large enough to take us into March of 2017, when we will have a new president and a new Congress. They can then pick up the fight once again, presumably with a better idea of what the American people would support.

The outlines of the deal, as reported by Politico:

"The ambitious accord, which is being negotiated by top House, Senate and White House officials, would boost defense and non-defense spending by $50 billion next year, and $30 billion the year after, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. Negotiations are fluid, however, and specifics might change before legislation is filed."

If that's an accurate report, it's very good news and would represent an important accomplishment for Boehner, who had pledged to "clean the barn" a bit for his successor before leaving office Friday.  But because it doesn't repeal ObamaCare or defund Planned Parenthood, because it sidesteps the emotionally satisfying cliffhanger of a possible government shutdown or default, and because it allows for minor spending increases on domestic as well as defense programs, it is also likely to cause a full-blown conniption fit among conservatives.

Notably, Paul Ryan is reportedly being kept far from the "scene of the crime", with no involvement in or even knowledge of the negotiations, so he can pick up the speaker's gavel with clean hands. However, the AP reports that the proposed plan closely echoes a plan that Ryan authored with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2013 but that conservatives rejected at the time.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.