News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

December 15, 2013

TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: Reprieve from partisan battle

Pact shows compromise still has a place in politics

TERRE HAUTE — Compromise, unfortunately, has all too frequently been interpreted as a dirty word in American politics. In some conservative circles, partisan extremists have shown a preference toward creating chaos in government, even to the point of shutting it down or allowing it to default on its debts, rather than exercise the kind of give and take that actually led to the founding and advancement of our nation.

While we won’t pretend that this trend has finally begun to subside, it is a positive sign that a budget compromise has been achieved and is advancing in our woefully dysfunctional Congress.

The news from Congress is good, if not earthshaking. A bipartisan budget agreement brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., passed the House late last week by a sizable margin. Our own 8th District Rep. Larry Bucshon, a Republican who has often sided with the more extreme and uncompromising segments of his party, voted for it. We applaud him for that.

President Obama has endorsed the agreement, so all that’s left is passage in the Senate, which could come this week. It has received sharp criticism from tea party darlings such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But most observers believe it will pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

According to the Associated Press, the measure leaves in place the bulk of $1 trillion or so in automatic cuts slamming the Pentagon, domestic agencies and Medicare providers through 2021 but eases an especially harsh set of cuts for 2014 and 2015.

The cuts would be replaced with money from, among other things, higher airline security fees, curbs on the pension benefits of new federal workers or working-age military retirees and premium increases on companies whose pension plans are insured by the federal government.

Both sides of the bitter divide get things they like and don’t like in this agreement. Such is the nature of compromise. In exchange, the agreement eliminates the chance of another government shutdown, at least for a while.

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, favors the agreement. Sen. Dan Coats has expressed skepticism and voiced criticism. We understand his concerns but urge him to support the pact.

One compromise, even a big one such as this, won’t necessarily change the tone or mood of gridlock in American politics. But it offers a badly needed reprieve.

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