Federal Spending Plan Illustrates Compromise Upsides, Downsides
Even an ugly win is still a win. That's one way of viewing the trillion-dollar omnibus spending plan that will carry government through September - assuming that the Senate follows the House lead and sails it through to the Oval Office.
For shore Congressman Jon Runyan (R-3), it's sufficient to know that restoration of Pentagon budget items mean no interruption of projects at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, an increasingly valuable component of defense plans and Ocean County's largest single employer.
"It allows them to use money that wasn't there before, because it was tied up in prior appropriations," he said, referring to the short-term continuing resolutions that have substituted for actual federal budgets for nearly four years.
Nearly every item in the plan is either trimmed, restored or adjusted. Medicare, Medicaid and other programs considered some of the highest-cost items are untouched.
A cost of living adjustment for retired veterans stays in, but not across-the-board. Disabled veterans and surviving spouses remain untouched. Retired veterans younger than 62 years with no debilitating factors will see about one percent less.
And still up in the air is the future of unemployment benefits. Runyan viewed it as a casualty of a divided Congress - with Democrats at the bottom of the matter.
"Everybody knew it was going to expire in December," he fumed. "But they chose not to make it part of the discussion. They tried to play politics with it."
For Runyan, the games on Capitol Hill are getting old. He's leaving his post at the end of 2014, and the list of primary hopefuls is growing rapidly. Runyan told us he's still unsure of his next career step.