WASHINGTON - Well, at least we're starting to get the procedure right. Washington has rediscovered the beauty of the boring.
It's called "regular order," using the normal, routine, constitutional process to arrive at, for example, a budget.
Normal had disappeared during the Obama years. Republicans duly submitted annual budgets, which the president then used for target practice, most famously demagoguing Paul Ryan's 2011 budget as un-American.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled Senate simply stopped producing budgets for four years.
And the ones the White House put out were so preposterous that, for example, the 2011 version was rejected by the Senate 97-0.
What little progress that was made came by way of crisis backroom deals orchestrated by Gangs of This or That. One gave us a sequester that everyone purports to deplore. Another gave us the naked tax hike of the "fiscal cliff."
And none produced a written record of actual, written offers that could serve as the basis for serious, open negotiations.
Ad hoc, person-to-person negotiations ge-nerally require a high level of trust.
The great virtue of regular order is that procedure can substitute for trust.
And now we see its first fruit: Each side has finally had to show its cards.
Now the bad news. The cards laid down by the White House are quite unimpressive. The 2014 budget is tax-and-spend as usual. The actual deficit reduction over a decade is a minuscule $0.6 trillion - out of a total spending of $46.5 trillion.
And every penny of this tiny reduction comes from tax hikes. Nothing from spending cuts, which all end up getting spent elsewhere.
Moreover, where's the compromise?
The Obama budget calls for not only more spending than the GOP's, but more than the Democratic Senate's as well.
For just fiscal year 2014, it even contains $160 billion more spending, and $128 billion more deficit, than if the budget - that Obama purports to be cutting - were left untouched!
True, President Obama has finally put on the table, in writing, an entitlement reform. This is good.
But the spin, mindlessly echoed in the mainstream media, that this is some cosmic breakthrough is comical.