The right started trying to spin their last second backing off of a government shutdown last night as victory, but this could not be any further from reality. The GOP controlled House passed a bill that called for $60 billion in cuts, but they only got $38 billion. The Republicans also had to drop every single budget rider relating to the EPA, the funding of NPR and Planned Parenthood. They got nothing.
Over at National Review, they are only focusing on the size of the budget cut in order to proclaim Boehner victorious,
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. This deal, thanks to Boehner’s robust leadership, was a good start. But it’s only the beginning.
Boehner won big? Really? Let’s see, he ended up settling for a number that was originally negotiated over two weeks ago. In all these additional days of negotiations, he gained nothing. The $38 billion in cuts he did here are peanuts in budgetary terms. The President’s 2012 federal budget proposal is $3.7 trillion dollars, so Boehner managed to shave off 1/100th of the federal budget. The cuts are chump change that amount to throwing an ice-cube into the ocean.
Politically Boehner and the House Republican leadership became big losers when they agreed to drop all of the funding and regulatory riders involving the EPA, Planned Parenthood, and NPR from the bill. The Tea Party and social conservatives brought up the funding for Planned Parenthood as a way to further their crusade against abortion, an issue which is the lifeblood of much of conservative activism, but Boehner and the GOP leadership had no problem with throwing them under the bus.
Let’s take a second and recap what John Boehner has actually won. He didn’t get the $61 billion in budget cuts that the House passed. He sold out much of the base of his party by dropping the riders, and his leadership only served to further alienate those on the right who wanted to make a stand by shutting the federal government down.
Politics aside, Boehner did the right thing for the country by negotiating this deal. Millions of Americans were going to be hurt by a shutdown, including those in the military. Budgetary principles and Planned Parenthood aren’t worth shutting the government down for.
Boehner knew that his party would be blamed if the government shutdown. He and the House leadership were aware that this was a battle they couldn’t win, so they got the best deal that they could and got out of Dodge. It was a smart move, but within his own party, this agreement will be a political disaster for Boehner. All he managed to do was expand the divide between the Tea Party, social conservatives, and the Republican leadership.
Obama was able to defeat the Republicans on this one, by exploiting the split between Boehner and the Tea Party. The truth is that Boehner and the Obama White House had a common goal of avoiding a government shutdown.
The fly in the ointment was the far right-wing of the Republican Party, which desperately wanted a shutdown. Those people are John Boehner’s headache, and probably the reason why he drinks.
The President could afford to stay above the fray on this and let the Republican civil war rage on. Neither Obama nor Boehner is a big winner here, but Obama beat the Republicans this time by exploiting their penchant for infighting and their total lack of unity. (This is a scene we should expect to see replayed over and over again as the Republican caucus seems to consist of members who are on different planets).
Congratulations Speaker Boehner, you just won yourself more animosity from the ideologues in your own party. Boehner got some budget cuts, but he didn’t get as much as he could, and Planned Parenthood is still funded, which means that there are going to be some angry Republicans out there today.
On top of everything else, Obama comes out of this reaffirming his bi-partisan image which means that he is winning the war of public approval and political perception.
If the government shutdown deal is a victory, these are the kinds of “victories” that Speaker Boehner could probably live without.