While the size of cuts may appear small, the stage is set for bigger victories!
O.K. here's some tough love for my conservative friends who were disappointed that out of a $3.65 trillion federal budget, the deal reached by Boehner, Reid and Obama would only make an immediate cut of $38.5 billion. But let's keep in mind that this was on top of previous cuts worth billions more from previous short term budget deals. And while the total $61 billion the House GOP was pushing for (still far too little for some) was a worthy goal, to shut down the government over a $22.5 billion difference would have put at risk our longer term projects by alienating independents who would blame the shutdown on the GOP.
Besides, this budget deal has many more sweeteners for conservatives to make up for the disappointment of the initial size of cuts. Speaker Boehner's web site has a full list, but allow me to highlight just a few items here.
These are permanent real cuts in programs. The savings extend out over time and will total hundreds of billions. This is the first time in history that the Congress and the President have agreed to real cuts, and not just a slowdown in the rate of increase.
A Defeat for Democrat's Demagoguery
Democrats are now on record approving cuts in amounts that only yesterday they called "extreme" and some suggested would kill women and starve senior citizens. The Dem's arguments have been exposed as silly, demagogic and reactionary making them that less effective next time around when even larger budget questions are at stake.
The way is now clear for a discussion of the Paul Ryan budget plan for 2012 which cuts trillions over time, not billions. Had we shut down the government over a difference of $22.5 billion, that discussion would not be taking place.
Putting Democrats on the Record
Even the majority of the American people who do not follow politics closely couldn't miss the clear message to come out of the wrangling this past week. Democrats are for more spending no matter what and Republicans are willing to provide the leadership and ideas to restore fiscal sanity to Washington. That's a big win for our side in the weeks and months ahead.
The deal also requires the U.S. Senate to take a vote on repealing ObamaCare The Senate must also debate and vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. Democrats in the Senate who hoped to avoid having those votes on the record before their re-election in 2012 will not be able to escape accountability.
Also, the deal forces the Obama Administration to disclose the damaging effects of ObamaCare including a "full audit" of the waivers the Administration has given to their union pals. In addition, there will be no increase in funding for IRS agents to enforce ObamaCare's provisions. These are the first real chinks in the armor of ObamaCare. Finally, the deal bans all federal and local funding of abortions in the District of Columbia. Another big win for the pro-life side. None of this would be taking place if the government had shut down over $22.5 billion.
Sets the Table for 2012
After the big GOP election win in 2010 we knew that while we had a comfortable margin in the U.S. House, we had failed to take the Senate and still had to contend with Obama in the White House. In the wake of the 2010 win the slogan was "on to 2012!" as we understood that in order to truly achieve the goals we set in 2010 we would have to do more than control the House.
With the absolute clarity coming from this budget agreement and our ability now to move forward on the larger budget questions and score votes on ObamaCare in the Senate, we have advanced the political football down the field. To me, that's worth much more than the $22.5 billion in immediate cuts we failed to get for 2011.
We have won the argument over spending and can move forward without being saddled with a messy government shutdown that might have left us in this exact same position at the end of it anyway.
John Boehner's leadership allowed us to leverage our power to the greatest extent possible and give us a superior position from which to fight the next round. With few cards in his hand he managed to pull off a win with the promise of more to come!