The budget compromise fashioned quietly by politically opposed House and Senate leaders could have meant trouble for the US oil and gas industry.
One of the compromisers, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), boasts on her web site about having “consistently voted to repeal taxpayer-funded subsidies for the oil and gas industry.”
Yet the 2-year deal she reached with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) leaves intact important adaptations of taxation, which are not subsidies, to the economic oddities of mineral extraction.
Conservatives complain about the agreement’s easing of automatic spending cuts resulting from past failures by Congress to approve a budget. Yet the expectation was unreasonable that so-called sequestration would stay in place indefinitely.
Liberals have gripes, too, including increased pension contributions by federal workers and absence of an extension to unemployment insurance.
The Ryan-Murray compromise replaces about $45 billion in sequestration in 2014 and $20 billion in 2015 and provides about $20 billion in deficit reduction beyond that. The sequestration relief is divided about evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending.
Objections from political extremes notwithstanding, the deal probably will be passed by the Senate. Its enactment would preclude another lamentable contest of brinksmanship threatening to close the federal government.
Completion of the deal shows thoughtful lawmakers from opposite political poles can respect each other and find ways to agree. The question must be asked whether this could have happened if the White House had been involved.
Apparently, emissaries of President Barack Obama weren’t invited to the negotiations. Might this be a tacit reclamation of legislative turf? If so, good. Obama has been too eager to legislate from his end of Pennsylvania Avenue, always leering at dissent.
Obama’s activist administration will leave behind constitutional checks and balances needing clarification, an overregulated economy needing relief, and a health-care system needing repair.
The work will require competence and compromise. Murray and Ryan have provided an important reminder that Washington, DC, still has people able to do the job.
(This item appeared first on www.ogj.com on Dec. 13, 2013; author’s e-mail: [email protected])