Literally at the last minute, President Barack Obama, the Senate Democrats and the House Republicans agreed to a package of budget cuts totaling $38.5 billion in a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year.
The bill would also deny federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia and would fund a school voucher program that President Obama has keen to cancel. Provisions for defunding NPR and health care reform, among other things, will be voted on in the Senate under the agreement. Most expect those votes to fail, however the point will have been made in advance of the 2012 elections in when 23 Democratic Senators are up for reelection.
For the most part, conservatives are hailing the deal as a victory for deficit reduction. The National Review points out that while the Republicans wanted to cut $61 billion, the Democrats wanted to cut nothing. Hot Air’s Allahpundit reminds us that the $38.5 billion, since it involves closing down entire programs, will result in a $500 billion reduction in federal spending over the next 10 years, not a bad deal all things considered.
Likely there will be, as there always is, a group of conservatives who will complain that it was a bad deal, that the House Republicans caved in, that forcing a shutdown would have resulted in something better. But they will be more than outweighed by the number of liberals who will be pretty sure that President Obama is a wimp who is always knuckling under to those right wingers. First he agrees to the George W. Bush tax cuts, now this.
Indeed, it is a strange thing to find that spending cuts that were unacceptable and would kill women on Friday afternoon were eminently acceptable by Friday evening as the clock ticked ever closer to a government shutdown. This meant that the Democrats were just as afraid, if not more so, of the political fallout of a shutdown as were the Republicans.
Next up, however, is the even more epic battle over the Paul Ryan budget that is designed to cut trillions over the next 10 years, reform entitlements and rationalize the tax code. This too is unacceptable to the Democrats. Whether it, or something close to it, remains unacceptable at the end of the day remains to be seen. In any event, we have not even seen the beginning of the political rancor and posturing that is to come.
Sources: Shutdown avoided, White House, Congress cheer deal, Jim Kuhnhenn, AP, April 9, 2011
Boehner Wins Big, Andrew Stiles, National Review, April 9, 2011
“This is the best deal we could get out of them”, Allahpundit, Hot Air, April 8, 2011