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Pluses Outweigh Minuses in Murray-Ryan Budget Deal


We’ve released our full analysis of the budget agreement between Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan.  As we stated yesterday, although the agreement is modest, it represents an improvement over current law.  Congress should approve it, but lawmakers should make every effort to accompany it with an extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits that will otherwise expire the week after Christmas.

Here’s an excerpt:

Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced a small-scale budget package on Tuesday that would replace $63 billion of the sequestration cuts slated for 2014 and 2015 with alternative savings measures.  The largest savings would result from continuing the sequestration cuts affecting certain entitlement programs (principally Medicare provider payments) in 2022 and 2023, instead of allowing them to expire at the end of 2021 as under current law.  The package also includes higher fees for airline passengers, increased premiums for pension plans insured by the federal government, increased retirement contributions for federal civil service workers, and reduced cost-of-living increases for working-age military retirees.

The additional funding for non-defense discretionary programs would mean that, for 2014, policymakers could discontinue a significant portion of the cuts imposed in 2013 and ease funding shortfalls in some priority areas.

The agreement falls short in some important ways, however, including the failure to extend expiring unemployment insurance benefits….

Before members of Congress go home to celebrate the holidays, they should extend these important benefits so unemployed workers can pay rent and put food on the table as they, too, usher in the new year.  If Congress fails to perform this basic task, it is critical that when it returns to Washington in January, lawmakers take up this unfinished business and do the right thing for these workers and the economy. 

Looking for more detail behind the agreement?  See the table we’ve included in the paper, which breaks down the numbers, including how the agreement affects funding levels and sequestration cuts in 2014 and 2015.
Click here for the analysis.