The big budget deal that won approval from Congress in the early hours of Friday morning has avoided government shutdowns and the threat of a default on the nation’s debt. That is, until at least 2017. It is also, in all likelihood, the last budget showdown between the Obama Administration and Congress. It’s not quite the “Era of Good Feelings,” but this does provide a touch of certainty in both the public and private sectors.
At least for now, everyday federal government employees aren’t going to wake up one morning and find that they’re on employed leave. That’s certainly a relief. But the implications of the deal go a bit further for employees like U.S. Navy civil electrician Milton Roe.
“These guys need us to be there for them so that they have lights on on the boat,” he said. “They have power to the ships, the planes get launched, you know the hangars are working, and they have the right tools and gear.”
Roe’s getting to go to work every day speaks to the vastness of the government’s reach, whether it’s an electrician working for the military or a ranger at national parks. Roe said if nothing else, this deal makes him feel like he, and the other 4 million federal government employees, matter.
“Now I know that the government, you know, maybe kinda cares about me as a federal employee,” he said. “Because at times you think the government doesn’t really look at federal employees as valued assets.”
Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the deal is a quick fix but is better than the alternative.
“It’s such a bad thing to close down the government because it makes the federal government look like they can’t govern,” he said. “And people lose confidence in the government in the long run – that’s very important.”
Haskins said this deal is also important for businesses because they don’t have to worry about defaulting on the nation’s debt until at least March 2017.
“The biggest fear to business is that we’re somehow going to damage the nation’s credit,” he said. “So I think business will be plenty satisfied.”
Haskins says the deal gives Americans a couple years of stability, but it doesn’t address the nation’s underlying fiscal problems.
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