Things to Read on the Morning of December 11, 2013
It Really Looks Like ObamaCare Implementation Is Proceeding Relatively Well in Half the Nation...

Lunchtime Must-Read: Robert Greenstein, President of CBPP: On the Murray-Ryan Budget Agreement

Robert Greenstein: On the Murray-Ryan Budget Agreement:

The budget agreement between Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan represents an improvement over current law, albeit a modest one.  Congress should approve it, but lawmakers should make every effort to accompany it with an extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits that will otherwise expire the week after Christmas.... Policymakers could scale back a number of damaging cuts that they imposed in 2013 in areas ranging from education and Head Start to low-income housing and medical research, among others.... It provides equal relief from sequestration for non-defense and defense programs.... It offsets the cost of sequestration relief without imposing cuts in key mandatory programs.... While the agreement does not close a single tax loophole, it does secure some of its offsets from fees and other measures that increase federal revenues.... It modestly promotes economic growth by somewhat easing the sequestration cuts in the near term while the economy remains weak and spreading out the offsets over a 10-year period.... It gives appropriators an opportunity to set funding priorities for 2014 and 2015, rather than mechanically extending last year’s funding levels....

But the agreement also has limitations.... It fails to extend emergency jobless benefits for long-term unemployed workers.... It would replace less than half of the total sequestration cuts in 2014 and a much smaller share in 2015... leaving non-defense discretionary funding at levels too low to meet national needs.... Its $22 billion in savings that would go for deficit reduction will barely make a dent in our longer-term fiscal challenges, and those savings would have been better used to extend the expiring emergency unemployment benefits or scaling back the sequestration cuts to a greater degree.