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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Deal Reached, No Government Shutdown: GOP Gets More Than Originally Asked For

There will be $38.5 billion in spending cuts, less than the GOP wanted as of late ($61 billion) but more than their original number back in February which was $32 billion. The battle over defunding Planned Parenthood and NPR will be fought in the next budget battle which is right around the corner since this one should have been passed while the last Congress was in session but Democrats kicked the can down the road.

KEY FACTS: Bipartisan Agreement on Spending Cuts to Support American Job Creation

After a long drawn out battle, two stop-gap measures passed while Congress battled out the details, Speaker of the House John Boehner(R) has been quoted as stating "This is the best deal we could get out of them."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell(R)was more blunt:

We decided to make history by implementing in the middle of this fiscal year a substantial reduction in spending," McConnell said. "Once we get through this process, by the end of next week we will move on to a much larger discussion about how we save trillions."

On the debt ceiling -- which could prove to be a knock-down, drag-out fight when the federal government hits its borrowing limit next month -- McConnell was blunt:

"The president has asked us to raise the debt ceiling, and Senate Republicans and House Republicans, and I hope many Democrats as well, are going to say, ‘Mr. President, in order to raise the debt ceiling, we need to do something significant about the debt.' My definition of significant, Mr. President, is the markets view it as significant, the American people view it as significant, and foreign countries view it as significant. So for tonight, again I congratulate the Majority Leader and the Speaker; this is an important first step, but just the beginning of what we need to do to get our house, our fiscal house, in order."

Because the government shutdown was due to start at midnight, the Senate by unanimous consent passed another stop-gap measure to keep everything funded until Thursday so that Congress had the time to get the bill written, voted on and signed to fund the government for the remaining six months.

This is a major win for the American people.

Here is why.

71 percent of Americans say they worry about the economy a great deal and 64 percent worry about federal spending and the budget deficit a great deal. (Gallup)

As a country, we spend too much, we spend more than we take in. Government spending is out of control and during Nancy Pelosi's reign as Speaker our spending rose at unprecedented levels, under Obama's rule our debt has rose unimaginatively. So winning the spending cuts fight and getting Harry Reid and Barack Obama to tout these spending cuts as "historic" brings the out-of-control spending issue right to the forefront for the upcoming Debt Ceiling battle and the next next fiscal year's budget battle.

Conservative Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Speaker Boehner, Senate minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Tea Party all deserve a round of applause. (Not for the amount they agreed on but for the setting up the field for the larger battle to come)

Forcing Reid and Obama to acknowledge, publicly, that spending cuts are a priority, making the out-of-control spending the top issue of messaging, and getting an agreement on $38.5 billion in spending cuts for the rest of this fiscal year, was nothing short of a miracle. Especially with Democrats kicking and screaming against every single dollar being cut. (Reminder: Democrats control the Senate and White House- Change that in 2012 instead of whining.)

I repeat- it set the playing field and the precedent for the future budget battles to come.

Did Republicans get everything they wanted? No. In negotiations of any type, rarely does anyone get everything they have asked for. But the stage is now set.

The Tea Party deserves kudos for willingly allowing themselves to be the cudgel the Republicans used to beat the message into the heads of Democratic politicians.

The unveiling of Paul Ryan's GOP Path To Prosperity in the midst of the showdown was nothing short of genius, allowing hardcore conservatives to see the future battle over trillions is more important than shutting down the government over billions. Ryan's plan even earned grudging praise from liberal leaning outlets.

Reactions are mixed throughout the blogosphere with hardcore conservatives wishing there had been more spending cuts and hardcore liberals wishing there had been less agreed on.

Liberal Reactions

David Weigel over at Slate: Headline "The No-Shutdown Wrap: Boehner Wins, Austerity Wins, and the Social Conservatives Go Home With A "Participant" Trophy."

Let’s go back to the raw politics. Can we say that Republicans got the better of the no-shutdown deal? Yes, because if there had been a shutdown, Republicans would have been blamed for it. The record was all cued up. Democrats spent months predicting that Boehner would have trouble controlling his new Tea Party members. They spent this week saying he had to put the Tea Party “horse back in the barn,” as Dick Durbin said. Well, there’s a deal – the implication is that he put the horse back in the barn. If the Republicans would have been blamed for a shutdown, it follows that they get credit for a shutdown being avoided.

David Dayen over at Firedogake: Headline "The Ugly, the Ugly, and the Ugly: A Look at the 2011 Funding Deal."

In the end, the deal to a avert a government shutdown and keep funding going for the rest of the fiscal year amounted to a $38.5 billion cut in appropriations from the 2010 baseline (although WaPo puts it at $37.8 billion, the joint Boehner/Reid announcement used the $38.5 billion number, so that’s what I’m going with). There was a time last December, with the McCaskill-Sessions compromise, promoted by the very conservative Republican ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, when Republicans agreed to a 2011 budget appropriation $20 billion ABOVE the 2010 baseline. If mixed in with the tax cut deal, that level could have been put in place. Therefore, this deal inked late last night cut $58.5 billion from the level of McCaskill-Sessions. This equals all of the tax advantages that didn’t extend current law, outside of the business expensing provisions, in the December 2010 tax cut deal. The entire stimulus is gone.

Steve Benen over at Washington Monthly calls it "A RAW DEAL".

What's more, the $32 billion offered by the GOP leadership two months ago was their opening bid. They expected to compromise from there, and their plan included no policy riders at all.

It seems ridiculous now, but if Democrats had, on that very day, accepted the House Republican leadership's spending cuts right there on the spot, it would have been a better deal than the one we ended up with last night.

Ezra Klein over at Washington Post: Headline "2011 is not 1995"

The substance of this deal is bad. But the way Democrats are selling it makes it much, much worse.

The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals. In the end, the real negotiation was not between the Republicans and the Democrats, or even the Republicans and the White House. It was between John Boehner and the conservative wing of his party. And once that became clear, it turned out that Boehner’s original offer wasn’t even in the middle. It was slightly center-left.

But you would’ve never known it from President Obama’s encomium to the agreement. Obama bragged about “making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Harry Reid joined him, repeatedly calling the cuts “historic.” It fell to Boehner to give a clipped, businesslike statement on the deal. If you were just tuning in, you might’ve thought Boehner had been arguing for moderation, while both Obama and Reid sought to cut deeper. You would never have known that Democrats had spent months resisting these “historic” cuts, warning that they’d cost jobs and slow the recovery.

Boehner, of course, could afford to speak plainly. He’d not just won the negotiation but had proven himself in his first major test as speaker of the House. He managed to get more from the Democrats than anyone had expected, sell his members on voting for a deal that wasn’t what many of them wanted and avert a shutdown. There is good reason to think that Boehner will be a much more formidable opponent for Obama than Gingrich was for Clinton.

So why were Reid and Obama so eager to celebrate Boehner’s compromise with his conservative members? The Democrats believe it’s good to look like a winner, even if you’ve lost. But they’re sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, they’ve opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile. Claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later.

Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville: Headline "So the deal was struck" sub-header "and it's garbage"

To understand how thoroughly the Dems caved to the GOP on this deal, it was struck with "historic" cuts about which that nincompoop Reid is actually bragging, as if misogyny, Social Darwinism, and allowing infrastructure to fester until people die on collapsing bridges are radically brave progressive ideas.

Obama's a fucking disaster. We needed FDR; instead we got FML.

Last but not least, Steve Kornacki over at Salon asking if Boehner "was bluffing the whole time?"

This was enough to convince several prominent conservatives to speak up on Friday, with the deadline just hours away, and to urge that a deal be cut. In a RedState post, Rep. Michele Bachmann argued that the stakes of this week's fight just weren't "big enough," suggesting that it would be better to wait for the debate over Ryan's budget to make a grand stand. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican whose pet issue is abortion, indicated that he didn't believe the government should shut down over the Planned Parenthood rider. Mike Huckabee, who holds no office but remains influential on the right, made a similar argument.

Suddenly, Boehner didn't need to beg his colleagues to go along with a compromise. They were deciding for themselves that it was the best thing to do right now. Only then was Boehner able to extract a few billion more in concessions from the White House, take the poisonous riders off the table, and return to his fellow Republicans to declare -- 90 minutes before the shutdown was to begin -- that he'd struck a deal. There was no mutiny.

[Updated reaction]- TeacherKen over at Daily Kos: Headline "Ignore this Mr. President. You already ignore me." (Temper tantrum or a supporter that will truly abandon Obama in 2012? You decide)

This is a screed, I admit. I am sitting here just letting it hang out.

I claim no wisdom. I claim no original insight. None of my arguments are original.

That is something that should concern you. I am borrowing from what I hear and 4ead from others. That includes members of your own party who hold federal elective office. It includes party officials in states and local organizations. It includes key voices in the progressive wing of the Democratic party. You know, those nasty types who remember that it was unions and progressives who have helped create the social safety net that built the American middle class, the social safety net the that Republicans are now dismantling a piece at a time, as they simultaneously impose a vision of this nation that should horrify you.

So go ahead Mr. President. Ignore me. Ignore all the voices that have been trying to explain to you, trying to help you help this country.

You might as well.

It seems as if you have been ignoring us all along.

But just one question, Mr. President. One that perhaps you need to consider.

What happens if we decide we have had enough? What if we return the favor?

What if we decide we will ignore you?

Conservative Reactions

Andrew Stiles over at NRO's The Corner: Headline "Boehner Wins Big"

Boehner might need a few Democratic votes to pass the deal — that was always a likely outcome. But the narrative constantly pushed by Democrats and the media — that “extreme” Tea Party members would force him to shut down the government — never materialized. As a result, not only does it look like Boehner got the best deal in terms of spending cuts, but he also comes off as the most reasonable actor in the debate, the one who worked the hardest to reach a compromise.

Republicans should feel plenty confident heading into the upcoming debates over the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget, Paul Ryan’s daring proposal to cut the deficit by $6 trillion. This deal, thanks to Boehner’s robust leadership, was a good start — much less for the size of the spending cuts it yielded than for the political dynamic it revealed. They will need all the political capitol they can muster going forward, because it’s only the beginning.

Scared Monkeys: Headline "An 11th Hour Budget Deal Struck … There Will be no Government Shutdown>"

GOP House Speaker John Boehner has done what previous Democrat controlled House Speaker Pelosi, Democrat Senate Majority Leader and Democrat President Barack Obama could not do last year. Boehner managed to get a budget passed in spite of Democrats. Sadly, Democrats last year thought it not in their interest to pass a budget when they controlled both the House Senate and Presidency

Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air: Headline "Who won the budget fight?"

We’ll see who won in September, but Republicans have achieved one major accomplishment. Not only did they force the first actual reductions in government spending in ages, but they have changed the political paradigm from whether to cut to how much and where to cut. That’s a pretty impressive victory for a party that only controls one chamber of Congress.

Update: One last point along these lines. Democrats have spent the last four months arguing that Republicans were too radical to govern and wanted to destroy government. Instead, Republicans fashioned a deal on their own terms and passed a budget deal — something Democrats couldn’t or wouldn’t do when they had all the power in DC. This gives the GOP a lot of credibility on leadership and governance, and all of it at the expense of Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

William Teach over at Right Wing News: Headline "Apparently, After Budget Battle Washington Is Still Broken" (This guy always manages to crack me up!! I like his style.)

That’s the conclusion of the Washington Post’s Dan Baltz

As the midnight Friday deadline loomed for a possible government shutdown, and politicians continued their rhetorical war of words, a larger message went out to the rest of the country: Washington is still broken.

Unfortunately, Dan never quite says “why” Washington is still “broken.” But, is it really broken, or is it just a matter of business as usual? I’d posit that it is just business as usual. Washington is still mostly about helping each elected officials special interests, which is why the election of so many TEA Party candidates was so important, because many of them are fighting to do the hard business, namely, reducing the absurd spending levels that we have seen from Democrats since 2007, and Republicans during the Bush years (and, yes, Liberals, those of us on the right did complain incessantly about the ridiculous and ever-increasing spending levels.)

Obama and the Democrats have themselves to blame for being in this predicament. Had they done their jobs last year, when Democrats had ample majorities in the House and Senate, the government would have been funded for the current fiscal year before Republicans assumed control of the House.

Whoa! How’d that slip in to the story?

[Updated reaction]- AJ Strata over at The Strata-Sphere: Headline "Boehner’s Amazing Negotiation Wins"

If you are only fixated on the budget reduction number ($38.5B) that the GOP won over the next 6 months as part of the deal to avert a shutdown, then you probably don’t know the federal government as well as you think. My hat is off to Speaker Boehner – that was one hell of a negotiating feat he pulled off! He wrung more out of Reid and Obama than I ever thought possible. And he exposed how weak a negotiator our young and inexperienced President truly is.

Donald Douglas over at American Power: Headline "'The Biggest Annual Spending Cut in History'? — President Obama on Budget Compromise." (Video at that link- Go watch)

"I'll try to do a fact-check later, but the biggest annual spending cut in real terms, as a percent of the deficit, as a percent of GDP, or what? I don't trust Obama. He lies. So I'll update with more on this later."

Ross Douthat over at NYT: Headline "The Shutdown That Wasn’t"

I would like to thank John Boehner, Harry Reid and President Obama for vindicating my decision not to write about the budget negotiations this week, on the assumption that the talk of a shutdown was mostly sound and fury, and then when the deadline hit a deal of some sort would be struck. I based that assumption primarily on my reading of the Speaker of the House, who made it abundantly clear — in word, deed, and especially body language — that he wanted the government shut down about as much as Indiana Jones wants to be locked in a room full of cobras. Given that the two sides weren’t that far apart in the closing days, in Boehner I trusted, and he didn’t let me down.

Also, he came away with a pretty impressive deal, for a party that only controls half the legislative branch...

Jill over at Pundit & Pundette: Headline "In budget deal, Obama and Reid lose"

They came to an agreement with Boehner that can't make them happy. The deal itself is better than I expected: $38.5 billion in cuts, no federally funded abortions for DC, and separate votes on Planned Parenthood funding and Obamacare repeal.* Andrew Stiles calls it a big win for Boehner, and makes a pretty convincing case that it's so

After spending all morning going through reactions (H/T Memeorandum), I have found not all conservatives are thrilled with this deal but the majority of them consider it a good start and setting for bigger battles to come.

On the flip side of the political spectrum I have found that not all liberals see it as a horrible deal although the majority seem to be pretty pissed off about it, then again, anger over there is perpetual so it is harder to tell if they are "angrier" than usual or not.

(This post has been updated and might be again as more reactions come out. Those reactions will be slid into the appropriate Liberal/Conservative reactions spots)