Two things happened Tuesday, and both represented victories for Washington and defeats for America.
The smaller defeat was closing the federal government on account of an insignificant dusting of snow. The weather was so mild that no one in Denver or Minneapolis would have noticed it.
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Federal employees – who we had been told throughout the shutdown were eager to go to work – suddenly had another paid day off.
I went to an 8 a.m. breakfast next to the White House. The roads were clear (and empty, as everyone stayed home). We had 15 people on time at 8 a.m. There was no snow accumulating at the White House.
Then I drove out to Dulles Airport with no problems. There were 200 people at that meeting. Everyone also made it to our business meeting at work later in the day, and one person even flew in that morning.
So, the private sector kept moving through the light snow, earning the tax money to pay the federal workers who couldn't manage to make their way through the flurries.
Washington had won, and the country would pay for it.
The larger defeat came when the budget deal was announced. You could tell how bad a deal it was when no one could describe it honestly.
The budget deal has tax increases that can't be called tax increases or no Republican could vote for them, so they are simply described in misleading language. But if you fly, you will pay a higher tax no matter what the politicians call it.
The sequester is broken, and spending will go up.
Because no Republican can vote for spending increases, there had to be offsetting out-year cuts. Of course, the immediate spending increases will be real and the out-year cuts will never happen.
It is sad that no one can tell the truth in plain language. The real disappointment isn't just that the budget deal is so bad that it can't be honestly described. The real disappointment is the lack of imagination and lack of new thinking and creativity.
As I describe in my new book, Breakout,
there are many new developments which could be used to shrink spending, cut out waste, improve services, increase competition, grow the economy and get back to a balanced federal budget.
Sadly, the opportunities to break out are ignored, while the opportunities to tax more and spend more dominate.
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