Alistair Cooke, the British-born journalist who was the foremost explainer of the American experiment — first to the British, then to America itself — noted that there were "three principles that have sustained, however shakily, this federal republic upon a continent. They are: compromise, compromise, compromise."
Thursday, all four of the Utahns in the House of Representatives joined in voting for a compromise that none of them really liked but that all agreed was better than more rounds of government shutdown, debt default and blue-in-the-face brinkmanship that rattle markets and threaten to destabilize the world economy.
The measure now goes to the Senate where, sadly, the two members from the Beehive State are split between maybe and heck, no.
Republicans Jason Chaffetz, Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart and Democrat Jim Matheson had no real words of praise for the deal. But that’s OK. They were willing to swallow hard and get it through the chamber due to their very real, and totally justified, concern that the alternative would be worse.
That alternative, of course, would be more rounds of deadlock of the kind that shut down the federal government for 16 days in October.
That act of pique was particularly felt in Utah, where the money-printing machines of the National Parks were shut down for a few days before Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reached a deal to reopen them at state expense.
But it also reverberated through the whole of the U.S. economy. The money that didn’t go into the pockets of furloughed federal employees, didn’t get disbursed as scientific research grants and didn’t get paid to the government in everything from oil lease fees to park admissions cost the economy tens of billions of dollars. And the threat that the United States government might default on its debts hurt the nation’s credit rating and dinged the economy for billions more.
The new deal, hammered out by House budget leader Paul Ryan, a Republican, and Senate budget chair Patty Murray, a Democrat, does not include the "grand bargain" that some hoped for in terms of tax and entitlement reform. It also relies on a few hidden fees, a cut in veterans benefits for younger retirees and some other gimmicks.
But it ends the mindless "sequester" method of budgeting and, for as long as two years, pulls the deficit downward.
Our representatives were right to support it. Our senators will be wrong to stand against it.
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