House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal that could prevent the next government shutdown, but don't start celebrating just yet. Tuesday night, Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan announced an $85 billion dollar budget agreement. If Congress accepts the plan, it would partially offset the next round of sequester cuts, and save important programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but it does not address the budget-slashing that already took place. And, it does not extend long-term unemployment benefits, or ask the wealthy to contribute more to our nation in taxes.
In order to raise revenue, the budget deal would require federal workers to pay higher premiums for their pensions, lower payments to student loan collectors, and impose new security fees for airline travelers. This budget plan would also eliminate virtually all of the sequester cuts for the Pentagon, it does nothing to address the cuts that have already hit programs like Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and Section 8 housing. Apparently, these are the drastic measures we must go to in order to prevent another government shutdown. Democrats appear to be giving up a lot, yet this deal won't even prevent another budget standoff over the debt limit.
For the past five years, Republicans have pushed more and more austerity on out nation, and this budget does nothing to reverse that trend. Not only is austerity exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to help our economy, it's also the wrong choice for the American people. No nation, in the history of the world, has ever cut its way to prosperity, and we won't be the first. It's time to stop this pattern of taking from those who have the least, while never asking those at the top to pay their fair share. It's time to put an end to austerity, and start investing in our nation once again.