We Must Think Beyond the 38 Billion

To misunderstand what John Boehner accomplished last week is to confuse the time for a first inning bunt and a ninth inning grand slam.  Yes, I get it -- 38 billion is chump change compared to our national debt problems.  But last week was not Boehner's budget per se.  It was merely the Democrats' last budget that they never got around to.  In other words, all we needed -- and perhaps all we could get -- was a bunt single.  It wasn't even officially "our turn at bat."  This was found money.

And we only got that measly bunt single.  Yes it was ugly, but we have the entire rest of the game in front of us.  Slugger Paul Ryan has the big bat, and his turn is coming.  And to boot, there are embarrassing votes in front of Harry Reid that were negotiated as part of this deal that will likely result in prizes much bigger than another 30 billion or more.

Last week in American Thinker I chided -- well, actually insulted -- Speaker Boehner for being scared of a government shutdown and for not having a clue what the election of 2010 was about.  That same sentiment was carried forward in some 30 radio interviews including a few nationally syndicated programs.  In other words, I am no apologist for the Speaker.

However, I refuse to slam him in knee-jerk style just because it felt good to do so last week.

I still believe Boehner was unnecessarily scared politically of a shutdown -- and I am not convinced that he yet fully understands what happened in November of 2010.  I tend to agree with Michele Bachmann and Mike Pence that a stronger stance might have accomplished a little more than Boehner did.  But truth be told, nothing last week was going to significantly impact a debt of trillions -- even Bachmann or Pence's most optimistic outcome.

Reasonable people can disagree on what our best case scenario was and on the risk-reward equation of going for it.  Boehner might have undersold us a bit, but his calculations are at least defensible.  Besides, he was able to do it while allowing defectors like Bachmann, Pence, and Allen West among others to remain heroes to the tea party.  Don't think for a minute that any of this was not calculated.  Of course it was -- and the defectors were in on the calculus.  Count on it.  This is still Washington and realities are still realities.

And if you're scoring at home on what happened, please do it right.  This budget shows a cut of 38.5 billion.  But it is 100 billion less than Obama wanted and 100 billion less than Obama would have gotten had Pelosi and Reid passed this budget.  I remind you, this was their budget to pass.  The House may not have cut 100 billion from the budget per se, but they did cut 100 billion from what would have been.  It's worth mentioning that here.

Moreover, there were two potential sea changes in the nuanced momentum of Washington that conservatives and tea party folks should recognize as maybe game changing.  First, there is ample evidence that Boehner did get taught some of the lessons of 2010 from the freshmen class of tea party Republicans.  The negotiation the Speaker ended up having was not at all the one that he thought he would have.

As you study the ebb and flow of the past several weeks, there was a noticeable hardening of his stance as we went along.  He even flirted -- perhaps dripping sweat -- with a shutdown possibility.  In other words, the tea party movement and mentality did penetrate his tear ducts to some extent.

However -- and this is also key -- Boehner has proven himself more clever and more deliciously strategic than I imagined he was capable of.  In the reality of politics -- which is nothing more than the intersection of flawed human nature and evil government power -- it is impossible to be "in your face" bold and sly and cunning at the same time.  I admit it, I like the Trump-Christie type in your face boldness.  It is what I advocated for last week.

Well, Boehner didn't give us that. 

But he did pull off some crafty brinkmanship and set the table for future gains in a manner that many conservatives have also been wanting to see for decades.  He negotiated a deal that recognizes the evil nature of the liberal statists in the Democratic Party and he played their game.  If there is one theme among tea party activists and conservatives, it's that our side must realize that this is a desperate fight for the Republic and "our friends across the aisle" are more than simply good folks we disagree with.

They are socialists who want to fundamentally transform our country, and nothing they do or say can be trusted.  OK, so Boehner is no Reagan -- or even a Pence or a DeMint or Bachmann.  But he is no John McCain or Dennis Hastert or Trent Lott either.  It might be a low bar, but that is progress.  We will never save our Republic until we understand the nature of our enemy  and perhaps the most encouraging sign is that Boehner has taken a few steps in that direction.

I still believe that a government shutdown could have been a political winner for Republicans and Boehner.  I believe that we could have gotten a little more out of this deal and of course it is a mathematical fact that 38 billion is but a rounding error in our government fiscal world.  And I fully believe folks should continue to hold Boehner and the House's collective feet to the fire.

But if we refuse to understand reality and refuse to recognize a bunt single is a win when only a bunt single is possible, then we lose credibility going forward.  We will never make real progress until conservatives gain control of all three branches.  That's when Paul Ryan can swing for the fences.
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