As the minutes ticked closer to a partial government shutdown at midnight on Friday, Congressional negotiators were continuing to work to get a deal. With little more than an hour to go, it appears that a compromise has been struck, resulting in $39 billion in cuts for FY 2011 and a deal to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood and implementation of Obamacare in the Senate (both of which will be voted down, bank on it)
Obama and the Democrats, after slamming any measure of cuts as heartless and cruel, will now be stumbling over themselves to take credit for “the biggest spending cut in history” and being the heroes that stopped a government shutdown. The whole thing was a bunch of hype over nothing, if you ask me, and the people propagating the hysteria about closing national parks and idling the IRS would have been better served directing their anger at spineless Democrats who didn’t want to pass a budget in an election year.
Conservatives are going to be upset with Speaker John Boehner for only getting $39 billion in cuts, and for caving on defunding Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. He’s in a tough position, though, since whatever he passes is going to get shot down by either Harry Reid or President Obama. I’m not thrilled by the low level of cuts – remember, we had a $260 billion deficit in February alone, so this budget wouldn’t even cover one-eighth of a single month’s overruns.
But this drama is going to play out again in a few months when the House takes up the matter of the 2012 budget. The GOP are going to be in a stronger position having gotten the Democrats to agree that fiscal discipline is indeed a priority, and part of the solution has to be reducing spending and entitlement reform, something that Paul Ryan’s newly unveiled budget attempts to do.
So while I’m not ecstatic about this particular deal, I think in the long run this is the first step on the path toward fiscal sanity in Washington. But just look at the simply ugly rhetoric over such a small amount of spending cuts – Republicans want women to die of cancer according to Sen. Harry Reid, want to kill women according to Rep. Louise Slaughter, and are basically “bombing innocent civilians” according to Eleanor Holmes Norton.
These are just a few choice quotes in the overall atmosphere of casting the GOP and conservatives as villainous cartoon bad guys rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of a shutdown that would make old people eat cat food and young women die from back alley abortions – when in reality, the Dems were the ones quietly rooting for a shutdown so they could further demonize Republicans. (Don’t take my word for it, just ask Howard Dean.)
If you thought this fight was contentious, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But it’s a battle we need to have if we hope to get any sense of long-term economic stability for America. It’ll probably be, though, one of the worst political debates in history. Get ready.