The federal budget deal struck by bipartisan congressional negotiators this week is far from perfect, but it is a worthy package that deserves praise.
From the sounds of it, neither side of the political aisle is entirely happy with the arrangement. That's fine with us. In fact, we consider it a good thing.
We are not entirely happy with it either, but we are encouraged that the process used to obtain this budget agreement is a throwback to the salad days in the nation's capital when party ideology bowed to the overall good of the nation by employing difficult-but-reasonable compromise.
In those days, Democrats and Republicans pushed, pulled, cajoled and tugged each other into compromise agreements on critical issues without using irresponsible threats to governance. The results were not always pretty, but at least the process always seemed to move the nation forward.
Clearly, that way of operating in Washington had become virtually obsolete. The political atmosphere -- regardless of the issue -- morphed into some sort of blood sport. "Winning" the ideological fight became the only focus. Means or consequences to the nation were of little or no importance. And, if it somehow became clear that "winning" was impossible for one side, the only fallback position considered was stopping the other side from "winning."
Such an atmosphere is an incubator for personal animus and nonsensical government shutdowns. It does offer wonderful political theater -- but only for a while. The histrionics, childish behavior and lack of action that are part and parcel of such a climate soon become tiresome.
It certainly had worn thin with us and, judging from most polling data, it did with the public as well. So much so that Congress has experienced some of its lowest job-satisfaction ratings in history.
As part of the settlement to the October government shutdown madness, a budget conference committee, headed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., was tasked with finding some common budgetary ground by Dec. 15.
In our view, they did an admirable job, against some significant odds.
Make no mistake, this budget deal does not offer long-term solutions nor could it be termed a grand bargain. It does not require either side to give anything precious to them, as certainly would be required in any grand bargain.
What it does do, however, is offer a little optimism that amid all the dysfunction, something productive can be accomplished. It also provides some much-needed time for members of Congress to fashion an agreement that offers reasonable long-term solutions and it seems to offer a process for reaching such solutions. OK, perhaps that is a touch fanciful, but we can always dream.