Congressional compromise & the budget - - A new era of compromise… or not?

January 24, 2014

Jan. 27, 2014

When President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill last week to fund the federal government it seemingly ended years of fiscal bickering between Republicans and Democrats that resulted in economic uncertainty and a government shutdown. Leaders of both parties hailed the compromise bill as the beginning of a new era. Or is it?

Not so, says Ken Bickers, a CU-Boulder political science professor, who views the compromise bill as one born out of necessity.

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Congressional compromise & the budget - - A new era of compromise… or not?

Jan. 24, 2014                                                           Ken Bickers

When President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill last week to fund the federal government it seemingly ended years of fiscal bickering between Republicans and Democrats that resulted in economic uncertainty and a government shutdown. Leaders of both parties hailed the compromise bill as the beginning of a new era. Or is it?

Not so, says Ken Bickers, a CU-Boulder political science professor, who views the compromise bill as one born out of necessity.

CUT 1 “I don’t think that the compromise that we saw on the budget bill should be viewed as a grand compromise that ripples through all the other kind of issues. I think it solved a problem for parties that they needed to have solved and they could solve it at that moment. (:16) But I don’t think that somehow now the Republicans and Democrats in the Congress are going to link arms and hum kumbaya together.” (:26)

Bickers says what really drove the budget deal was the fear by incumbents in Congress that the backlash from the American public following the government shutdown last fall would spill over into 2014 when many face re-election.

CUT 2 “I think both parties are looking at this year as a really crucial year politically. The polls have been sobering for both parties. Particularly, I think, the Republicans were chastised by how much of a hit they took because of the government shutdown. (:14) They felt like that it wasn’t their fault. That it takes two to make a deal and that it takes two for a deal to fall through. But they were the ones to get the blame. And they didn’t want that to happen again.” (:26)

            In analyzing the deal Bickers says the irony is the Republicans essentially got everything they asked for before the government shutdown. 

CUT 3 “ They had been hoping to get a political benefit by stopping Obamacare at some level and they got it by letting the Democrats roll out Obamacare with all the various website problems (:13) - the promises that the president had made repeatedly that you if you like your plan you can keep it, if you liked your doctor you can keep your doctor – all of those things turning out not to be true was the political victory that the Republicans had wanted but had gone about it in the wrong way by shutting down the government.” (:27)

            Because of the problems with Obamacare, combined with controversy surrounding domestic spying by the National Security Administration, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS and questions about Benghazi, Bickers says the Republicans feel those issues have hurt the Democrats and they think they have a shot at regaining control of the Senate in 2014.

CUT 4 “Presidential approval ratings have an impact on that party - the candidates of that party - when they are running in House and Senate elections because House and Senate elections are the only way for Americans to, in a sense,  participate in a referendum on that presidency. (:16) That’s part of the worry that the Democrats have. They’re going to have to find ways to campaign around the president.” (:24)

            Thirty-five Senate seats are up for election in 2014. Of those seats, Democrats hold 21. Seven of those Democratic-held seats are in states carried by former Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney - - red states where the majority of voters are registered Republicans - - which could make victory a little easier for the GOP, says Bickers, who reminds us that Republicans need only six seats to take the Senate majority.

-CU-

 

 

 

 

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