No Big Winner in Budget Deal

But are 'fees' just tax hikes?

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2013 12:32 PM CST

(Newser) – A budget deal agreed upon by the House and Senate has come early, and it may prevent another shutdown—but pundits aren't exactly cheering about it. Among the responses:

  • At Slate, Matthew Yglesias says the plan will "improve the economy moderately and it achieves the GOP’s goal of reducing spending." But contrary to what Paul Ryan might like you to believe, it effectively raises taxes in the form of higher "user fees"—on flying, for instance. "If it makes sense for Republicans to do a deal that raises 'fees' in exchange for spending cuts, then on what planet does it not make sense to do a deal that raises taxes in exchange for spending cuts?"

  • The Wall Street Journal's editors are shrugging, too. The good part of the deal: It "includes no tax increases, no new incentives for not working, and some modest entitlement reforms." The downside: It breaks planned spending caps "by some $63 billion over the (2014 and 2015 fiscal) years." And sure, "fees for services aren't tax increases on income or sales. But that doesn't mean they won't be felt by average Americans."
  • David Dayen, however, calls the deal "demonic" at Salon. Federal worker? "You'll have to pay more into your pension, an effective wage cut that just adds to the $114 billion ... federal employees have already given back to the government in the name of deficit reduction." Indeed, they haven't gotten a raise since 2010, and this plan largely does away with a planned 1% pay hike next month.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announce a tentative agreement between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Negotiators reached the modest budget agreement to restore about $65 billion...
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announce a tentative agreement between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a...   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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