For example, what was the biggest issue on the budget front? Well, a small tweak to the sequester that prevents furloughs of air traffic controllers so that the airline schedules don't suffer. Are we even talking about a billion dollars there?
So, this is our budget outlook for the foreseeable future: no major changes. Budgets not tied to inflation will be flat. No new spending initiatives. No new savings initiatives. No new taxes. No tax reform. No taking a scalpel to the budget. No reform to Medicare or Social Security except what's already baked in the cake. No Dem wishes, no GOP wishes.
As I said before, I'm satisfied with this. I don't trust the current crop of pols to do a good job on any kind of reform, so we're better off if they restrict themselves to fixing what is obviously broken. Fix the flat tire, but don't mess with the engine.
We are now on a trajectory to have lower deficits. That's due to the Tea Party House Republicans, who forced spending cuts, and due to the 2012 electorate who didn't hand power to the GOP, and thus allowed many of the Bush tax cuts to lapse.
No Gain, But No PainI'm not the fastest to see this coming. Back in 2011, an Atlantic commenter named steveinch pushed the idea of no cuts, but also no spending increases. I was hot for some cuts, but eventually I saw the beauty of his plan. It would be more politically palatable to hold the line on spending than to find the places we could safely cut. With the sequester, we have something fairly close to his plan.
I think the budget next year will look a great deal like the budget we have now, primarily because no other budget deal has a chance of passing.
As for other issues, such as background checks (small potatoes, really) or immigration (a big issue), they have almost no chance either. Congress will get one big thing done this year--a status quo budget. That is all. Everything else will be small, and not a whole lot of small things either.