April 9, 2011

Government Stays Open - Who Gets What

So many ways to add a metaphor...
The government is not shutting down.  At least for now.  Who won?  Who lost?  What really happened? Time for a quick assessment of the outcome.  Here's a quick look at what the various parties concerned with the deal get and my two cents on what it means.

What Speaker Boehner gets:

  • $38 billion in cuts on a projected total spending of $3.83 trillion this fiscal year. These cuts are in addition to the $10 billion from the two previous Continuing Resolutions.  For a total of $48 billion in cuts.  To put that in perspective the cuts amount to roughly 1.25% of the total budget being cut.  Not much, but a cut nevertheless.
  • No government shutdown which could have been bad politics for the GOP, though that isn't guaranteed
  • The ability to claim that he got more than they expected, and to claim that he is also able to  deal and compromise
  • A group of not entirely please GOP freshmen and a Tea Party still not convinced that he's serious enough about debt reduction, with at best a "let's see what he does on the 2012 budget and the debt ceiling" attitude.  In other words he has bought himself a bit of time.
  • A challenge to do much more in the next two budget and debt limit battles
  • School vouchers for D.C. students and no new IRS agent hires.
What President Obama and Harry Reid:
  • The claim that he was tough but still was able to compromise with the slash and burn Republicans.  Having painted himself onto the corner that the GOP shouldn't be compromised with any more, he compromised again.  I'm not sure if that's a plus with his base but it might help him with a moderate or two.
  • The ability to claim he avoided a government shutdown, that Democrats somehow seem to think would be bad for the economy.  He does get to sidestep halting payments to military personnel which would have been disastrous.
  • Policy riders on Planned Parenthood and repeal of Obamacare to be dealt with in the Senate, which Democrats still control.
  • The claim that the GAO audits that Boehner got on last year's financial reform passed by Democrats   were too far too friendly to Wall Street and the banks.  The ability to stoke class warfare and anti-big-business sentiment in 2012.
What Pelosi gets: 
  • A diminished status because she was shut out of the deal and not involved.  She was reduced to the status of a parrot of Democrat talking points
What the Tea Party and debt concerned voters in general get:
  • The chance to wait and see if the next battle is more meaningful
What does it all mean?  I'm inclined to think it's a tempest in a tea pot.  The actual amount is pretty small,and the real battle is yet to come. But as of now it does put everyone in a better position with moderate voters simply because it's a compromise and they like compromise and consensus (the type of thinking that arguably led to the debt situation that now exists).  That everyone does better nets out as a plus for Democrats, since they were the ones who needed to make an impression with that voting block.  So despite all the media's likely claims, both left and right, that this is a net plus for Republicans, in the short term that may be slightly right, but long term, I think this either helps the Democrats more, or else gets swamped by the events surrounding the Debt Limit extension or the 2012 budget.  All told, I'm not feeling all that warm and fuzzy.

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