There is more good in the budget deal than is revealed in the budget cut number agreed on last night. Measured against the size of budget cutting necessary for the future, the numbers are small, to be sure, but this number was a tactical, not a strategic engagement. The key to the matter is momentum, principle, and precedent, which set up the strategic environment for 2012.
Andrew Stiles at NRO correctly points out the extent of the Harry Reid cave-in. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) didn't want to cut anything at first. But bowing to political reality, eventually ponied up about $4.7 billion in cuts. He ended up with $33.8 billion less spending than he wanted. And he called it an "historic" accomplishment. (Not surprisingly, the left is appalled). House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), on the other hand, initially proposed $32 billion in spending cuts. House Republicans, led by an undaunted freshman class, bumped that number up to $61 billion ($100 billion off the president's budget), before settling on $38.5 billion. That's $6.5 billion more than Boehner asked for to begin with, and $5.5 billion more than the $33 billion that Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats claimed had been agreed to less than two weeks ago. A.J. Strata highlights the much bigger win that has been foreordained by the fine print, not conveyed in the number alone:
The budget number is pretty good, mainly because it kills programs instead of lowering their budgets for 6 months. so those 6 month numbers expand and grow in the coming year (snip) [emphasis added]
Obama even admitted in his speech infrastructure projects were being ‘delayed' (i.e., de-funded in 2011). Once de-funded, they will not be back any time soon. As fox News reports, this is a lot farther than the Democrats said they would be willing to go when this all started. (snip) However, Boehner must have had an incredible stick in those negotiations, because Reid and Obama agreed to put things to vote in the Senate which everyone deemed impossible just last week. That is the truly amazing part of what Boehner pulled off yesterday:
The agreement reached with Senate Democrats guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would repeal President Obama's government takeover of health care in its entirety. The House passed such legislation in January as part of the Pledge to America.
The agreement with Senate Democrats guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The last thing Reid or Obama want is a vote in the senate on Obamacare (or Planned Parenthood). But now they are going to have to vote and this is huge. If this happens, and 4 of those 23 red-state Democrats up for reelection in 2012 vote against Obamacare, then the President will have to veto a bipartisan bill that lines up with the overall will of the American voters. What could be better than isolating Obama and Obamacare from the will of the people and Congress heading into 2012?
The conclusion is inescapable that the Democrats realized they would be blamed for a shutdown, at least as much as the Republicans. The ploy of holding the troops' paychecks hostage stands as one of the dumbest political moves of the Obama presidency (and that is saying a lot). Sure there would be pictures of families turned away from the Washington Monument, but these would pale in comparison with the pictures of families near military bases unable to pay the rent or buy groceries, going into paycheck advance lenders and payting 22% interest in order to put food on the table.
One thing the American public will not tolerate is using our brave military heroes as political pawns. A.F. Branco summed up the politics thusly:
Congratulations to Speaker Boehner, who, with "one half of one third of the government" pulled off a victory.