The Common Good

The Budget Battles are Back

While immigration and gun violence issues are capturing most of the week's headlines, the budget battles have re-emerged in Washington, D.C. Last month House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released competing budget proposals. And today, President Barack Obama released his own plan, which aims to reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. 

As The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas note:

Today’s budget is the White House’s effort to reach the bedrock of the fiscal debate. Half of its purpose is showing what they’re willing to do. They want a budget compromise, and this budget proves it. There are now liberals protesting on the White House lawn. But the other half is revealing what the GOP is — or, more to the point, isn’t — willing to do. Republicans don’t want a budget compromise, and this budget is likely to prove that, too.

As the White House sees it, there are two possible outcomes to this budget. One is that it actually leads to a grand bargain, either now or in a couple of months. Another is that it proves to the press and the public that Republican intransigence is what’s standing in the way of a grand bargain.

Budgets are not just about dollars and cents. They reflect a vision for the type of society we seek to create. As Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, said in a statement:

The fiscal choices we make reveal what we value the most as a nation and indeed scripture tells us that countries will be judged on how they treat the most vulnerable. The expansion of early childhood education demonstrates the President’s commitment to our society’s future, while the permanent extension of tax credits that help lift families out of poverty shows he wants to create an economy where everyone can prosper.

Only time will tell if Republicans are willing to engage the president in a serious way to find common ground on deficit reduction instead of letting dysfunction continue to dominate in Washington.

Beau Underwood is Campaigns Manager for Sojourners. 

Image: Capitol Hill,  Brandon Bourdages / Shutterstock.com

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