Saturday, April 19, 2014
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EDIT: Baby steps to a balanced budget

The U.S. government is finally working again. On March 1, budget sequestration saved the country over $85 billion through massive spending cuts.  Families throughout the country, especially associated with the military-defense industry, lost jobs and benefits. All this could have been avoided if both parties in the House of Representatives decided to play nice. And in October, the government shut down, putting thousands of government workers out of work and pay. Again, if our lawmakers on Capitol Hill knew how to compromise, it all could have been avoided.

Now a bipartisan bill shows promise of actually avoiding another 11th hour rush to saving the country’s budget crisis. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, and Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, have worked together to put together a politically balanced approach to keeping the government open through 2014.

The bill will pump $63 billion into sequester relief for those who lost their jobs. Who can argue with helping working Americans get back on their feet? They were only knocked down because  lawmakers preferred fighting with one another as opposed to caring about the repercussions of their partisan battle for dominance. The bill will also shave a measly $23 billion from the budget, but for now, that is a start. We have to start cutting from the budget eventually.

Instead of tackling every economic issue that cleaves the House in half, Ryan and Murray did not address extending the federal unemployment programs. Liberals have been pushing for reform to help the unemployed feed families and caregivers able to search for a job. Conservatives cannot claim victory, either, because large businesses will have to spend more money to offer employees pension benefits. Both sides win, both sides lose.

This is compromise.

In the past year, the Capitol has felt the effects of a shutdown and the sequester, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration and House Speaker John Boehner have not handled bipartisanship properly, and that kept the government from actually functioning for months and months. Obama’s rapport with the country has been declining — his approval rating hit a record low at 44 percent of Americans highly approving, according to a Wall Street Journal poll Tuesday. When Tex. Sen. Ted Cruz overshadowed Boehner during the shutdown, people saw less of a leader and more of a spectator while the country suffered.

Ryan and Murray actually bridged the gap between the parties and worked together instead of accusing the opposing party of refusing to compromise.

For Americans, the mere fact that a budget passed before an unnecessary scramble to keep the country afloat should inspire some hope in the American democratic system.

The magic of the bill is how it only addresses keeping the government open. Both Murray and Ryan brilliantly left out addressing hot-button issues like entitlements that could have been their budget’s Achilles’ Heel. By keeping minimum wage out of the budget, extreme politicians that oppose any sort of bipartisan legislation have less of a platform to oppose a bill that, in fact, makes a lot of sense.

This new budget will save the country money, even if it’s a small amount compared to the bloated deficit. Specific areas of a bill should not prevent the entirety of the budget from operating. Controversial issues like those concerning entitlements should be battled in their own arenas, not when the economic health of the country is so precarious. This budget passing would mean that lawmakers may finally see that baby steps will help better the country. Smaller, less inclusive bills take on issues one at a time. Sweeping legislation just causes political tension.

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