Dec. 10 - Bi-partisan budget negotiators put together a two-year agreement ahead of Friday's deadline, focused on easing across-the-board spending cuts, and reducing debt without raising taxes. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Looking to head-off a New Year's government shutdown and prevent the chaos seen in October, top Congressional negotiators reached a budget deal - ahead of a Friday deadline. Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan calls the agreement a step in the right direction. SOUNDBITE: PAUL RYAN, REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion and it does not raise taxes and it cuts spending in a smarter way. From the outset we knew that if we forced each other to compromise our core principles we would get nowhere. That is why we decided to focus on where the common ground is, so that's what we've done. That means to me a budget agreement that reduces the deficit without raising taxes and replaces some of the arbitrary across-the-board spending cuts with smarter permanent reforms that pay for this relief." Ryan admits fiscal conservatives didn't get all they want. Members of that group are already in an uproar because the deal softens the blow of wide-ranging cuts in federal spending known as sequestration. But Democrats and their liberal constituents had to give as well. Democratic Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray admits the end result will remove a cloud of economic uncertainty for many. SOUNDBITE: PATTY MURRAY, DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN, SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Because of this deal the budget process can stop lurching from crisis to crisis. By setting bi-partisan spending levels for the next two years this deal allows congressional committees to proceed under regular order and gives government agencies and the companies that do business with them the certainty they need to hire workers and make investments. This isn't the plan I would've written on my own, I'm sure this is not the plan Chairman Ryan would've written on his own." Missing from the deal from Murray's perpective: closing of corporate tax loopholes and an extension of long-term unemployment benefits. The budget deal now heads to a vote by the House first and then on to the Senate.