The Norman Transcript

Columns

December 21, 2013

Emerging from D.C.’s trenches

NORMAN — Having finally adopted a bipartisan budget deal, members of Congress now have to translate its broad outlines into detailed spending bills — and raise the debt limit enough to let the Treasury keep those commitments. You might think that the agreement would make both of those tasks easier, but the last such deal didn’t stop the parties’ near-incessant squabbling. Lawmakers have little hope of avoiding another politically damaging shutdown or an economically ruinous default unless they absorb the lesson that led to this month’s compromise: They can’t make progress unless they stop trying to force the other party to give up its core beliefs.

Congress has gotten remarkably little done in the last four years as it has lurched from one partisan showdown to another. Both sides have sounded like broken records, with Democrats arguing again and again that government should raise spending and revenues, and Republicans seeking relentlessly to cut taxes and spending. Even when they agree that something must be done — for example, that entitlements should be reined in to slow their growth — they disagree sharply over how to do it.

That’s why the budget deal negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray, a liberal Democrat from Washington, and Rep. Paul D. Ryan, a conservative Republican from Wisconsin, was both improbable and instructive. The proposals their chambers had passed several months earlier embodied the parties’ dueling ideologies, and so diverged wildly over spending levels, tax rates and entitlements. To strike a compromise, Murray and Ryan had to find new ways to split the difference in their proposed spending limits that didn’t violate Republicans’ opposition to tax hikes or Democrats’ refusal to cut aid to the needy. And so they did, agreeing to provide more discretionary spending in exchange for less mandatory spending, some fee increases and trims to military pensions.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • First, do no harm — to your bank account

    After being sued by the Wall Street Journal, the government finally released its Medicare reimbursement data last week. It included the less-than-stunning revelation that 28 of the 100 doctors who received the largest payments in 2012 were ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Reading between the lines

    Reading is such an improbable idea — a miracle, really. Yet simple squiggles on a page, arranged just so, can convey ideas that change the way we think or introduce to us characters we love for a lifetime. In celebration of reading — and ...

    April 15, 2014

  • CCFI tackling area’s child abuse problem

    Editor, The Transcript: To those of you who are reading this editorial, I assume you care or at least are entertained by the opinions of others. It is my hope and desire that when you read this editorial, you will care about the facts. ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Does Oklahoma need advice from Texas?

    Does Texas have a lock on “brilliant minds”? The names of Texans like Congressman Louie Gomert, Sen. Ted Cruz and that other guy ... I can’t think of his name ... oh yeah, Rick Perry come to mind very quickly. Add to that infamous list ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Why Comcast-Time Warner deal makes sense

    Say this about the deal announced Thursday for Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable: It’s big. Big price tag of $45 billion. Big combined subscriber base of 30 million households. And big risk of a veto from government antitrust regulators....

    April 12, 2014

  • Solid evidence within ice record

    In his November 10 Letter, Gary Reynolds misstated information in the October 27 op-ed by Catherine Hobbs, “New report says global warming is “unequivocal.” Mr. Reynolds incorrectly stated that Dr. Hobbs cited evidence from the 2007 UN ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Times two during April tax season

    Each April, it matters about which column the numbers fall into. Jerry’s first surgery for cataracts occurred in November and the other, December. “How’re you seeing now?” friends say....

    April 8, 2014

  • Soldiers home but not yet safe

    March ended with this uplifting news: For the first time in seven years, no U.S. soldiers died that month in combat. Not one....

    April 7, 2014

  • Fred Harris still sounds like a presidential candidate

    A tourist who happened to wander inside the Kerr Auditorium at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History Friday afternoon missed the introduction but caught the tail end of Fred Harris’ lecture....

    April 6, 2014

  • Latin inventors thrive — in U.S.

    If you think that Latin America is doomed to remain behind in science, technology and innovation — as one could conclude from the latest international rankings of patents of new inventions — you should meet Luis Von Ahn....

    April 1, 2014