Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Details on the Budget Deal

Some good, some bad, but still a very strong first step in the right direction!

I don't want to repeat everything I said in this previous post, but a few corrections and additions to this story are required. Please read both posts before commenting.

Last night the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations released the text of the final bill to finish the work on the 2011 budget for the federal government that the Democrats failed to do prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2010. Visit their web site for the text and also the summary.

One correction from my previous post on this subject, the total of cuts for the entire fiscal year is $38.5 billion. That figure includes $12 billion in previously approved cuts. Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) described the deal this way:
“Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation. The near $40 billion reduction in non-defense spending is nearly five times larger than any other cut in history, and is the result of this new Republican majority’s commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people’s money.”
The deal continues to invite criticism from those on both the right and the left. Conservatives continue to bemoan the fact that the cuts are minuscule compared to the size of the $3.8 trillion federal budget and the $1.6 trillion estimated deficit. That criticism is compounded by the news that many of the cuts were actually based on Obama Administration budget gimmickry. Another example of Obama's sleight of hand is an agreement to axe four White House "Czars" who are already out the door or on their way.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) Chairman of the conservative House Study Committee decried the failure to achieve larger cuts but also recognized that we have even bigger fish to fry:
“While I respect that some of my Republican colleagues will ultimately support this spending deal, I believe voters are asking us to set our sights higher. The debate is now turning to next year’s budget and the debt ceiling, both of which offer real opportunities to chart a better future than the one toward which the country is currently headed. Making a real impact will require the discipline to do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing. Americans want us to reach higher, act bolder, and remember the job we were sent here to do.”
UNDENIABLE: Deal Pulls National Agenda to Favor Budget Cuts

In a column on the Fox News web site, reporter Carl Cameron credited the GOP with a clear win in the budget fight:
The history of offers on this bill goes something like this. Democrats first offered no cuts, then $4 billion, then $6.5 billion, then $33 billion, then settled at $38.5 billion.

Boehner made numerous adjustments to his offer in recent days too, but started at $32 billion, then with a Tea Party push went to $62 billion, then dropped to $40 billion, then $38.5 billion.

Democrats claimed they met Republicans halfway after the $10 billion in cuts that already passed this year were approved. They settled late Friday night at three and a half times more.

Boehner came in $8.5 billion higher than the halfway point between his high offer of $61 billion in cuts and the Democrats opening bid of zero cuts.
The entire agenda in Washington has been changed by this budget deal. The best proof of that is the about face from Obama. 24 hours after the deal was signed the Administration sent their top flak, David Plouffe to the Sunday news shows to talk about a new and improved budget offer expected on Wednesday. Readers may expect Obama's new revised budget plan for 2012 to be heavy on taxes, but the wind for cuts is blowing strongly in favor of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 budget plan a“Path to Prosperity.”

As Speaker Boehner wrote in an op-ed appearing on Sunday in USA Today the "Next fight to be about trillions, not billions."

Obama's Shutdown Propaganda War Foiled

I know there were some on the conservative side who wanted a government shutdown to make a point. But consider the downside of that approach. Here's a photo taken at the White House on Monday:

Photobucket
President Barack Obama poses in front of the South Portico of the White House with students from Altona Middle School from Longmont, Colorado April 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The group had written to Obama saying that their trip to Washington would be cancelled if the government was shutdown.
Don't think that photo-op wasn't planned well in advance with the desired headline being "Obama Consoles Students with White House Visit After GOP Shutdown Ruins DC Tour." Reporters would be stationed outside every museum and monument in Washington and at National Parks around the country to find people willing to go on the record denouncing Republicans for the shutdown.

To those on the right who were ready for a shutdown I ask: what would it have achieved? How do you know that we would not be forced to settle for as little or less than we got from the current agreement? Would the cost levied against the GOP in the p.r. wars be worth the result and possible damage to our cause moving forward?

As many of us realized on election night 2010, this fight won't be over until we finish the job in 2012. But we are making steady, slow progress in the right direction. The best result from the current deal is that the conversation has changed dramatically in our favor. That's worth more than another 50 or 60 billion in a single deal. We're on a long road and we have to play for keeps, not just short term wins.

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