• “This budget deal falls far short of what is needed to address the nation’s fiscal challenges. It will not have any significant impact on the national debt, and, in fact, increases federal spending for the next two years.” — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts announcing his opposition to the Ryan-Murray budget proposal.
Roberts’ opposition was expected given his challenge by a tea partier in next year’s GOP primary. In fact, Roberts’ challenger, Milton Wolf, called for Roberts to oppose the plan a little more than two hours before the senator announced his position. There is little doubt that Roberts, even after decades on Capitol Hill, senses a real threat from the unknown Wolf, a political newcomer.
• “If this deal also leads to less drama over the debt ceiling and Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations, then the American people will see a much more functional Congress and a much less melodramatic fiscal discussion. Yes, this is just a first step, but it is the essential first step toward eventual congressional action on a long-term debt stabilization plan.” — former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, a Republican and now a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, on the bipartisan budget agreement now before Congress.
Domenici is another GOP voice calling for passage of the plan. Conservatives, including Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp, are mobilizing against the bill. But the betting line still favors passage, especially if the vote comes this week and even today before the House adjourns for the year. Make no mistake: Republican leaders want a quick vote before opposition hardens.
• “If you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.” — House Speaker John Boehner on the budget package.
The bill allows about $63 billion in more spending, which House Budget chairman Paul Ryan calls “sequester relief.” But that, he says, is offset with $85 billion in budget cuts, resulting in a reduction in the deficit. That’s not a huge cut, although Ryan insists that it’s significant. Boehner, to be sure, wants these budget showdowns to go away because they’ve only served to dampen GOP poll numbers.
• “Commissioner Nicastro's deceitful and questionable actions, as documented by her own correspondence, raise concerns about her fitness to lead the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.” — a letter Wednesday from a group of Kansas City-area Democratic lawmakers asking for the governor and attorney general to investigate the state education commissioner.
Nicastro’s actions, which come in connection with development of plans for Kansas City Public Schools without the district’s knowledge, has raised the ire of Democrats. The problem for the state school board is that any steps it now takes on KC schools will be shrouded in even more controversy that will undermine public support. That’s not good.