Rob Horowitz: At Last: A National Budget Agreement
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
This measure, which provides a two year budget framework, is the product of a successful and constructive negotiation between Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative and recent Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI). It tempers some of the worst impacts of the sequester restoring some funding to discretionary domestic and military programs, while providing a small measure of long-term debt reduction.
Realizing the huge political hit his party took as a result of an ill-advised and highly unpopular government shut down this past fall, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and his leadership team put all of their political muscle behind the compromise and were handsomely rewarded with an overwhelming victory. Declaring his independence from hard line conservative groups who were strongly opposing the compromise, Boehner went on the attack, saying the groups were "misleading their followers” and “that they had lost all credibility”: The organizations, including Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth, were also strong advocates of the debacle of shutting down the government unless the President agreed to delay implementation of Obamacare for a year.
A hopeful sign
As we head into the New Year, this admittedly modest compromise offers some hope that the partisan gridlock, which has stalled progress on so many critical issues facing our nation, may ease a bit. The first critical test for when Congress returns after a break for Christmas and New Year’s is whether an agreement can be reached on an emergency extension of unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million Americans who are scheduled to lose them at the end of this year.
While the economy is improving somewhat, the unemployment rate remains high. It is essential to continue to provide this lifeline to individuals and families who are truly on the edge. A compromise that brings along a sufficient number of Republicans by finding some offsetting down- the- road spending reductions is achievable.
The adoption of this budget compromise—the first budget adopted since 2009—signals a constructive shift toward searching for common ground among House Republicans that seem no longer willing to let the Tea Party 'just say no wing' march them off a cliff. This new opening must be seized by leaders of both parties so that they can get back to actually doing the people’s business. That is a not unreasonable hope for the New Year.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
Related Slideshow: New England Communities With the Most Political Clout 2013
The Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with Azavea, released data maps this week showing political contribution dollars to federal elections dating back to 1990 -- by county.
GoLocal takes a look at the counties in New England that had the highest per-capita contributions in the 2012 election cycle -- and talked with experts about what that meant for those areas in New Engand, as well as the candidates.
24. Cheshire County, NH
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88
Total contributions: $759,209
Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
21. Hampshire County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41
Total contributions: $1,664,077
Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.
20. Barnstable County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90
Total contributions: $2,348,541
Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.
19. Berkshire County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49
Total contributions: $1,624,400
Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724.
18. Essex County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22
Total contributions: $9,991,201
Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.
15. Addison County, VT
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49
Total contributions: $569,299
Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.
11. Bristol County, RI
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91
Total contributions: $1,027,472
Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.
10. Grafton County, NH
Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95
Total contributions: $1,868,739
With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area
7. Middlesex County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81
Total contributions: $50,432,154
Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England. The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.
6. Nantucket County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41
Total contributions: $344,021
Nantucket County consists of a couple of small islands and is a major tourist destination in Massachusetts. Normally Nantucket has a population of 10,298, but during the summer months the population can reach up to 50,000.
4. Dukes County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32
Total contributions: $618,960
Consisting of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, Dukes County is one of Massachusetts’ top vacation spots. Originally Dukes County was apart New York, however it was transferred to Massachusetts on October 7, 1691.
3. Suffolk County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73
Total contributions: $30,323,537
Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.
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