Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Budget Deal

I really have to believe that news of the budget compromise that was reached late last night — and, presumably, prevented a government shutdown — is being welcomed enthusiastically by the members of the National Park Service.

This would have been an astonishingly poor time for such an impasse to occur because it would have kept the employees of the National Park Service from observing an important date.

Tuesday will be the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumer, S.C. — the event that the history books tell us was the first clash of the Civil War.

A federal shutdown would have closed the National Park Service, which is responsible for Civil War battlefields as well as places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon — and, as a consequence of that, it would have shut down Fort Sumter, too.

But it doesn't appear that will happen now.

After the fuss that was made over the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth two years ago — and the sesquicentennial observations of every major Civil War battle that will no doubt occur between now and 2015 (culminating with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination) — it seems to me it would have been embarrassing if nothing had been done on Tuesday — the anniversary of the day it all began.

But now, as I say, that possibility seems to have been eliminated.

Temporarily, anyway.

I'm not sure what to think of the compromise itself, though — and about the only other thing I can say with any certainty is that this matter is not resolved. This was only the first skirmish.

The compromise only resolves conflicts over some small, rather inconsequential cuts (compared to the amount of money we're talking about here). It does not address much larger issues that are sure to provoke even greater arguments in the near future.

It sweeps those issues under the rug, but I suspect that doesn't really bother either side. The Democrats clearly demonstrated when they controlled enough seats in Congress to do whatever they wished that they have no taste for tackling really tough questions, and the Republicans probably are content to give the Democrats just enough rope to hang themselves with as 2012 draws ever closer.

So I think both sides are glad to have avoided a shutdown and put off the important decision making for another day.

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