As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

A Victory for Deficit Reduction

Let’s put this in a little perspective.

First, a phrase I like: Elections have consequences. If you vote for someone, they might do what they say they are going to do.

The election of President Obama in 2008 had consequences. If Americans aren’t particularly wild about health reform, then why did they vote for a man who promised he was going to enact health reform?

And now the 2010 election has had a consequence, and frankly, a consequence exceeding the election result.

For a Party that seized only one House of Congress and does not control the presidency, the Republicans got way more than they should have expected out of the 2011 budget battle.

I would have preferred a shutdown, because it would have made boldly clear where the country stood on cutting the deficit, depending on which side they backed. If they backed Speaker Boehner, it would have vastly strengthened his hand going into the much more important and sizable budget fights to come. If they supported Obama, we’d know the country isn’t ready yet for serious cuts.

John Boehner at the White House
Boehner at the White House Thursday
photo by Keith Koffler

But the compromise reached last night is nevertheless a victory for Boehner and a template for a broader deal later this year on the ten-year FY2012 budget, which is of far greater consequence. Boehner, the hoary congressional dealmaker, played Obama pretty well.

First, let’s look at the amount cut. The number being cited this morning is the $38-$39 billion cut from the 2010 level. But what’s not often noted is that Republicans slashed some $79 billion from Obamas proposed 2011 budget. That’s a huge White House concession. Programs costs are often measured in 10-year windows, meaning the cut is actually – given the propensity of programs to expand – probably north of a $1 trillion over 10 years from what Obama wanted.

Republicans were forced to drop “riders” on the bill that would have defunded Panned Parenthood, the health reform law, National Public Radio, the EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and the FCC implementation of “net neutrality” regulations.

But let’s face it, my friends. These were not policy proposals. They were poker chips. They were take-it-or-leave it demands that could never make it through a Democratic Senate and past a Democratic president.

Remember, voters could have conceivably taken the Senate away from Democrats and given it to the Republicans. They didn’t. Elections have consequences.

Fact is, the White House was correct all week when it declared that it had already given a lot.

And then it gave more, adding about $6 billion to the $33 billion it claimed the Republicans had agreed to and allowing a few policy riders on the bill that will really piss off the Democratic base.

These include: Up-or-down Senate votes on whether to defund the health reform law and whether to remake federal aid to planned parenthood into state block grants; a school voucher program for District of Columbia kids and a ban on the use of any public funds for abortions in the District; an annual audit of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the financial reform bill and which is despised by many Republicans; and a ban on funds for transferring Gitmo prisoners to the United States.

Most of these things are minor, but the health reform vote will be a big deal because the result will set up the political fight over the legislation for 2012 and lurk in the back of the minds of Justices who will decide the law’s constitutionality.

Overall, Boehner did his Party well. If they rebel against him for getting more than would have seemed realistic even a few weeks ago, they are mistaken.

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11 Responses to A Victory for Deficit Reduction

  1. So the statists win another battle, all because Boehner raised the white flag. The only good that came out of this is knowing our soldiers will be paid. This commander in chief is not worthy of that title. He held our troops hostage to keep his gravy train rolling and that is unforgivable.

    I guess you can label me as one of the mistaken Keith. There aren’t any wins for freedom in this agreement. That promised $100B in cuts was whittled away to $38.5B in smoke and mirror cuts. Rove’s assertion of $79B in cuts is just more smoke and mirrors. All of those stand alone bills they promise to take up will have a snowball’s chance in Hades of getting passed and everybody knows it.

    That contract the Republicans trotted out before the 2010 mid-terms was nothing but a ploy to get elected, and it looks like they signed it in disappearing ink. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I won’t be fooled again.

  2. First this is why people attach riders–because they think they can’t be vetoed or removed. Didn’t work this time, but I do think overall the Reps hung fairly tough. What got me was the childish rhetoric–Republicans want to kill women, Republicans don’t want my wife and daughters to have health care (like Reid’s fam goes to PP), this was such unmitigated stupid garbage–but I am sure some of it came through and became gospel. Republicans, as we all know, are men, they hate women, they want to kill them, they don’t care if the country goes bust because they are all rich and don’t need protection or services, etc. Honestly I blame the lack of more debate clubs for all this!

    • We have no media in this country…that ANY reporter would take multi-millionaire Harry Reid’s statement…NOT question it in any way, shape or form, and PRINT it is dumbfounding. Same with the absent from yesterday’s votes Pelosi (but hey…who has to do their sworn duty, during a time of three ‘kinetic actions’ when George Soros says ‘jump!’) and Slaughter of NY (she of the ‘Tea Party Republicans sent to Washington to kill women…err, womyn.’)

      The ‘Fourth Estate’ pretty much is just a Fifth Column…ready to gleefully transcribe the talking points.

      No wonder they want the internet shut off switch.

  3. I agree with Susan…the ‘crumbs’ that were thrown to those of us paying attention, don’t get served well with TEA (as in Party).

    There was a loud, clear message in the election results of November 2010…apparently that was heard on a temporary basis. Fiscal change MEANS fiscal change…not hopey/changey reach across the sound byte aisle.

    And I have to ask…as it seems the ‘colonial’ wagons are once again circling around The Wons…(lack of media coverage?) are they in ‘no fly zone’ Williamsburg this weekend as ‘planned’ as that pesky Budget issue is so over now?

    • Mary and Susan, I agree.

      I wanted DEEPER cuts AND a gov’t shutdown, but it was not going to happen. The Tea Party has kept the republicans nose the fire!

  4. Although it was not what many of us wanted (the cuts did not go deeper), POLITICO’s story, and Keith’s, show that Boehner has walked over the crucible and shown how effective a leader he is. Drudge’s “WINNING” fascade on his website with Boehner’s mug is but a hint of the Republican victory. A close Dem friend this morning, over coffee, said that Texas Dem’s are pissed as hell (as are most Dem’s around the country) – Reid did not fight hard enough and gave it to 3 of Boehner’s 7 demands on the budget.

    A victory is a victory.

    Three cheers for John Boehner, Paul Ryan and others who worked their azzes off to get this budget through.

    Lots of conservative purists say this is a sell out. I disagree. Boehner did the best he could with what he had.

    This is step one in the dismantling of Obama’s Socialist Empire

    • I agree Tom, the dems did blink just a wee bit on this one. No, it’s not nearly what we wanted by a long shot. But with a house and a precedent at the end of it all there was no way we were going to get what we wanted. We will just have to wait a bit longer till we have what we want. AND we need to start positioning ourselves for that now.

  5. Whoa! hold on here, the public didn’t elect MrO because he would implement Obamacare, they wanted him to reform health care in America to make it more affordable, not nationalize it.
    Unseating a US Senator is a daunting task. The Senator starts his campaign for reelection with a sizeable campaign fund and the challenger starts their campaign by trying to raise campaign funds. A subtle but big advantage for the incumbent. Add in the MSM’s Dem bias and delight in finding every fault with the challenger then they have mountains to climb before anyone gets to the ballot box.

    The White House and the Dems gave up nothing of value and gained talking points of how they cut the budget to “win the future”. The up and down votes that will decide the fate of certain programs are just pro forma promises that probably won’t change a thing but will look good for reelection campaigns.

    Both major parties haven’t correctly assessed the mood of the country because they haven’t accounted for the social networking that allowed the “tea party” to connect and give a voice to the silent majority.
    It’s a new day, a new way of connecting to the voters and the senior incumbents who have been in Congress way too long will have the fight of their careers next year.

    • On health care, I think people vaguely wanted a less horrible deal–where cancer even if you had insurance could wipe you out or where people with a hangnail could not get insurance or your boss knew everything about your health or even genetic profile even though they said they didn’t etc—not what they got!

  6. Look, it was a stupid battle – one forced by the 111th Congress. Boehner did what he had to do as Koffler pointed out with the DNC still holding 2/3rds of government.
    Realpolitik at work,
    The real fight will be and should be over Ryan’s Budget. The GOP should dig a trench and stack magazines and hand grenades for that battle.
    “Ryan’s Budget”
    (sounds like the title of a movie)
    And yes, the Democrat talking points were absolutely shameless.