There are two ways of looking at the deal announced Tuesday night by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray.

Either the deal — which rolls back the 2011 sequestration budget ceiling by increasing federal spending from $967 billion to $1.012 trillion in 2014 — represents another cave by spineless congressional Republican leaders or a brainy, pragmatic decision to take the issue off the legislative calendar until after the 2014 election.

Either way, it's indisputable that the same GOP leaders who in August said defending sequestration was far more important than defunding Obamacare are in December surrendering major ground on ... sequestration. Go figure.

Big step backwards

Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in a USA Today op-ed that the deal is "a step backward" because of the aforementioned spending increase.

But it's also a step backward, in Needham's view, because "diverting user fees to fuel bigger government is a tax," and because it "relies upon promises of future cuts that the demise of the sequester vividly illustrates cannot be counted on."

In any case, Needham notes, "Members of Congress will have to explain to their constituents what exactly they achieved by increasing spending, increasing fees and offering up another round of promises waiting to be broken."

Take the partial loaf and run

The other view is that the deal represents "an acceptable percentage of a loaf," according to Washington Examiner senior political analyst Michael Barone, paraphrasing supply-side economist Tyler Cowen's initial assessment.

In other words, Barone said, "getting half a loaf, or even a quarter, is all you can realistically hope for when you have a majority in the House but not in the Senate and don't hold the White House ..."

This view recalls, even if, at 25 percent of the loaf, only faintly, Ronald Reagan's maxim that "my 80-percent friend is not my 20-percent enemy." (Question: Is your 75-percent enemy your 25-percent friend?)

Will it pass?

Senate Democrats and a sizable chunk of the Senate Republicans will approve the deal, the former because it castrates sequestration and the latter because they think it enables them to claim to have "saved sequestration" or "cut spending."

In the House, Speaker John Boehner almost certainly has enough votes between supine Republicans and Democrats eager to join in the gutting of sequestration.

In other words, it's more business as usual in the nation's capital as taxes, spending and regulations all continue on steeply upward trajectories.

On today's

Editorial: Shining light on the truth about the 'dark money' pioneer, the Tides Foundation.

Not-So-Friendly-Skies, Day Three: Colorado Springs Airport faces adversity, goes entrepreneurial.

Noemie Emery: Obamacare is Obama's failure by choice, not fate.

Shikha Dalmia: Rand Paul's plan to save Detroit faces familiar political challenges.

Op-Ed/Jed Babbin: Karzai Iran deal boosts Taliban's prospects for returning to power.

Sean Lengell: Congress poised to punt on farm bill.

In other news

NBC News: Obama ends year on low note in new poll.

The Washington Post: NSA uses Internet cookies to pinpoint hacking targets.

The New York Times: New GM chief is a company woman, born to it.

New York Post: Signer at Mandela ceremony was a fake.

Los Angeles Times: Betting big on a citadel for Afghanistan's elite.

USA Today: Bitcoin's future is either as a super deal or a super fad.

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: P.J. O'Rourke on a plain brown package.

Washington Free Beacon: Islamist theorist tells Jihadis not to emulate Mandela.

Daily Caller: How the budget deal could sink - or make - the Tea Party's top accomplishment.

Bonus Must-Read

The American Spectator: Mandela avoided Mugabe's mistake but can it last?

Lefty Playbook

Talking Points Memo: The next five battleground states for Obama's Medicaid expansion.

Washington Monthly: GOP's latest devious plan to kick the poor.

New Republic: New study finds more drugs in water system than anybody knew.

Bonus must-read

Tom Hayden: Why Bill de Blasio heralds a new populist left in America.