Ryan-Murray budget deal is just another sideshow

The Ryan-Murray budget agreement is nothing but another in a long line of political sideshows that emphasizes the political box the GOP has trapped itself inside. And still, this compromise avoids the main issue.

The political fight over the last three years has been about reducing spending, reforming the tax code, restructuring entitlements and decreasing the debt.

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Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have tried to hold the line and change the way the U.S. does business - curbing the political culture of borrowing, spending, and taxing to finance government. But if the public continues to see the GOP as dysfunctional, divided and beholden to outside conservative groups, Democrats will continue to win this battle for the status quo.

Yes, Tea Party tactics have largely been a political failure, and Democrats are ripe to take advantage and maintain their tax, spend, borrow, and repeat regime.

Refusing to vote to raise the debt ceiling didn’t work, and the government shutdown was a complete disaster.

No one could understand how a failing to pay our bills, delaying social security checks to the vulnerable and withholding pay for our servicemen and women was good government.

The challenge that remains ahead is creating an American opportunity society for all.

The test conservatives face is offering a positive alternative to the tax, spend, borrow system that dominates Washington.  

We can ignite economic growth by continuing to control spending, reducing the debt, and reforming the tax system, but Ryan-Murray is not an answer to this larger problem.

This deal sidesteps the real fight, delays growth and continues the economic stagnation that has left 90 million Americans outside of the labor force, probably until after the 2014 elections.

The Tea Party is a powerful reflection of the dissatisfaction much of America feels over high taxes, overspending, debt, and economic and national decline.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House GOP opted out of a political trap by avoiding another government shutdown and another fight over a debt-ceiling increase coming into an election year. They even managed to look “responsible,” by participating in making government work in a chaotic, hyper-partisan city.

But when the klieg lights dim, and the press room empties, Sen. Murray (D-Wash.) and the Democrats get to keep business as usual. They rip open sequester cuts, increase domestic spending $63 billion above the caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act, and this is only the beginning. 

The next crisis we find ourselves in will include more sequester rollbacks and even more spending.  

While Joe Kiernan, a true conservative, described the opposition to Ryan-Murray as “right wing” Republicans, The Washington Post called opponents of Ryan-Murray “Far Right” and “Arch Conservatives.” This, again, corners Republicans in the Democrats’ narrative trap, and sets the stage for discrediting conservatives in the future fight against a tax, spend, borrow system.

Ryan-Murray may have beat back the conservative challenge to standard liberal policies, but the great challenge that still lies ahead is creating American opportunity for all.

We need policies that end the cycle of long-term unemployment, get the working poor off of food stamps and into the middle-class, and give millenials a chance to succeed. 

JFK’s principle platform was “Let’s get this country moving again.”  The rejection of Obamacare and the president’s unpopularity may make the time ripe for our argument, but Ryan-Murray makes us weaker to make that that fight. Crafting an American opportunity framework will get us back on track.

Gilmore was governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002 and chairman of the Republican National Committee, 2001-2002. He is currently president of the Free Congress Foundation and AmericanOpportunity.Org