Obama and the Democrats: The agreement satisfies demands by President Obama for significant new spending above the limits imposed by the 2011 budget law. Obama requested $74 billion above the cap for 2016. The agreement effectively awards $66 billion, evenly divided between defense and domestic spending. Obama and Senate Democrats executed a strategy of stalling on the spending bills to force GOP leaders to negotiate, then got pretty much what they wanted.
Pentagon and defense hawks: Military leaders and their congressional allies have been frantic, fearing the return of automatic budget cuts that essentially would have frozen the Pentagon's budget. Instead, under the budget deal, the Defense Department will get an extra $33 billion in 2016, a more than 6 percent increase. The Pentagon budget is roughly $523 billion.
House Speaker Paul Ryan: The newly elected speaker criticized the process that produced the agreement — he said it "stinks" — though it mirrored the approach he used two years ago in reaching a similar pact with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. The deal clears the decks of some contentious budget and debt battles and allows Ryan to focus on other issues and try to unite his divided GOP team. First up: He must try to win over the conservative members who opposed the budget package.
Medicare and Social Security: The agreement fixes two major problems for Medicare and Social Security, the critical entitlement programs. Social Security's disability trust fund is projected to run out of money in late 2016, which would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits for 11 million disabled workers and their families. The budget deal would add six years to the life of the disability fund by temporarily reallocating a small portion of payroll taxes from Social Security's retirement fund. The deal also includes changes to the disability program to fight fraud and to encourage disabled workers to return to work.
On Medicare, the budget agreement would avert an unprecedented increase in Medicare Part B premiums for about 15 million people due to a complicated formula involving Social Security's annual cost-of-living adjustment. Since there's no COLA in the coming year, about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are on the hook for a premium increase that otherwise would be spread among all. For these people, monthly premiums were projected to increase by about $54 a month, to $159. The budget deal sets their premiums at $123 in 2016.
Senate GOP class of 2016: The measure takes the threat of a government shutdown and a potential debt crisis off the table for the duration of the 2016 campaign, a big relief to endangered Republican incumbents such as Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. All are up for re-election in states Obama carried twice, in 2008 and 2012. And by removing the Social Security issue, those incumbents are spared the potential for divisive votes next year.
Tea Party Republicans: They may have toppled Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but Tea Party lawmakers and conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus got rolled again by the tag team of Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Many Tea Partyers were defenders of the very spending curbs that the budget deal unravels and they were shut out of the process that produced the agreement. They'll hold it against Ryan.
Washington purists: To the consternation of budget watchdogs and fiscal purists, the deal is laced with budget gimmicks, many of which produce questionable savings. For example, savings from Social Security changes are double-counted. Sales of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are inflated. An arcane maneuver involving smoothing of premiums paid to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. artificially inflates near-term revenues that are lost in later years. Since the deal spends money immediately while generating savings over the long term, interest goes up.
Farm state lawmakers: They were upset over $3 billion in cuts to the crop insurance programs. The measure cuts some of the generous government subsidies to crop insurance companies and limits profits for those companies. Farm state lawmakers say the move could force more companies out of the business — several have already left — and leave fewer options for farmers' insurance coverage.
Hospitals: An arcane provision cutting Medicare reimbursements for outpatient procedures provided by hospitals that acquire doctors' practices has upset the hospital lobby. Unlike the crop insurance provisions, this one probably won't be reversed.