They came to an agreement with Boehner that can't make them happy. The deal itself is better than I expected: $38.5 billion in cuts, no federally funded abortions for DC, and separate votes on Planned Parenthood funding and Obamacare repeal.* Andrew Stiles calls it a big win for Boehner, and makes a pretty convincing case that it's so:
Perhaps more significant than the $38.5 billion in cuts, which Boehner told members was “the best deal we could get,” are the political implications as both side prepare to tackle the bigger spending issues. “We’ve changed the conversation,” said freshman Rep. Tim Griffin (R., Ark.). “This year we’re talking about how much we’re going to reduce — cut — and that’s a major cultural shift in a matter of months.”Read the rest. But if you're not convinced, check out what Ezra Klein has to say about it:
Indeed, Harry’s Reid dramatic shift on spending cuts — from denouncing the initial GOP offer ($32 billion) as “draconian” and “unworkable,” to celebrating a $38.5 billion spending cut as “historic” — is remarkable in and of itself. Also telling was the way that Democrats artificially inflated the amount of cuts being offered. (At least they care enough about the political sensibilities of American voters to lie to them about it).
Obama bragged about “making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Harry Reid joined him, repeatedly calling the cuts “historic.” It fell to Boehner to give a clipped, businesslike statement on the deal. If you were just tuning in, you might’ve thought Boehner had been arguing for moderation, while both Obama and Reid sought to cut deeper. You would never have known that Democrats had spent months resisting these “historic” cuts, warning that they’d cost jobs and slow the recovery.What Klein omits is that by cutting Obama's profligate budget, Boehner is merely acting in concert with the manifest will of the people. Now Barry, Harry, and the rest have to pretend this is what they wanted, too. I for one am eagerly looking forward to another cleansing election in 2012.
Boehner, of course, could afford to speak plainly. He’d not just won the negotiation but had proven himself in his first major test as speaker of the House. He managed to get more from the Democrats than anyone had expected, sell his members on voting for a deal that wasn’t what many of them wanted and avert a shutdown. There is good reason to think that Boehner will be a much more formidable opponent for Obama than Gingrich was for Clinton.
So why were Reid and Obama so eager to celebrate Boehner’s compromise with his conservative members? The Democrats believe it’s good to look like a winner, even if you’ve lost. But they’re sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, they’ve opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile. Claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later.
Kathryn Jean Lopez calls it a victory for the culture of life:
The House got an agreement out of Harry Reid and the White House to prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, and to allow a vote in the Senate over Planned Parenthood funding (and Obamacare). [. . .]Yes, I think the conversation has been changing on Planned Parenthood, too. More people are seeing the big money-making abortion provider for what it is. Harry "women's health" Reid and Louise "they kill women, don't they" Slaughter didn't gain credibility for themselves or their cause with their crazy rhetoric.
I think the Dems probably made a long-term mistake making Planned Parenthood the story today. I think there will be some revealing hearings to come.
Another defeat for Obama is contained in the deal:
The D.C. scholarship program John Boehner has fought for is in the deal. The bill the House passed last month to extend the program will be signed by the president, despite his opposition.I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time, in the middle of their monster power grab, not to bother offering a budget last year. But how many liberal members of Congress are now wishing they had done so, when they had both houses under their control and could ram through all manner of budget atrocities against the will of the people?
John Boehner just walked Barack Obama into being a civil-rights leader.
Spin from the White House:
When asked what they believe was given up for Boehner to cede ground on the family planning rider, a senior administration official said nothing.Conservatives are girding their loins for the larger battles ahead as Obama tries to salvage his lost weekend.
"I wouldn’t say that we gave anything up,” the official said, casting it as a decision that Boehner just had to make. "They had to give in or shut down the government over it. They chose to not shut down the government over it."
Hah. Now he's lecturing us on living within our means.
Philip Klein: A deal conservatives should be happy about:
Not only did Boehner extract these concessions from Reid, but he managed to get these cuts without going through the ordeal of shutting down the government. Boehner now looks like an honest broker and somebody who is reasonable -- a big departure from the image of the petty Speaker Newt Gingrich during the 1995/96 budget battles. There's been a big debate over who would benefit most from a government shutdown, but my view is that at best, it's was a tossup, and at worst, it could have backfired on Republicans, and made them skittish about future, and more important, spending fights.RTR.
That would be a shame, because with the release of House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, there's actually a proposal on the table to deal with the long-term driver of our nation's debt, entitlements. Conservatives wanted $100 billion in cuts this time, yet Ryan's plan proposes a spending reduction of 58 times that amount, putting the nation on a stable long-term trajectory. And I'm sure there will have to be a lot of compromise on next year's budget, too. I don't expect Obama to sign a repeal of the health care law he passed or suddenly adopt Ryan's reforms to entitlements.
It's important for conservatives to hold Republicans' feet to the fire about spending, but it's also important to be realistic about what can be done when the GOP only controls one chamber of Congress. With this deal, Boehner struck the right balance.
UPDATE: More details from Boehner here. Deal includes requirements for studies and audits of controversial Obama health care and financial regulatory provisions. The Washington Post reports that it also pumps money into the DC school voucher program that Obama had wanted to pull the plug on.
*Corrected: I originally wrote that the vote would be on Obamacare funding, not repeal.
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