Snookered: Budget deal only really cuts $14.7B

Posted on April 12, 2011


Grumbling has grown over the tiny nature of cuts reached in the recent deal to avoid a government shutdown. It’s sure to gain even more intensity after analysis shows that a lot of the cuts were accounting tricks and on programs that the President wanted to cut anyway. The upsetting bottom line – if you’re looking at an actual reduction in discretionary spending, the number is only $14.7 billion, and when it’s all said and done, we’re still spending $773 billion more than we were in 2008.

Conservative lawmakers already balking at the deal are going to surely increase their pushback at a deal that looks like we got pretty much nothing accomplished. The danger is still real, then, for a government shutdown to occur if the deal gets scuttled in the House or the Senate. Speaker Boehner has put the GOP in a difficult position – it looks like he caved to Democrats, and if his members revolt, his party gets blamed for the shutdown.

What looked at first like a less-than-desirable situation – but one that could be stomached while looking at the bigger picture – is taking on a different cast. The details look like they’re really going to piss off a lot of the newly elected Republicans, and rather than looking like a statesman, Boehner is beginning to look ineffectual and incapable of recognizing the big strategic picture. Either way this thing turns, Democrats can claim victory and Republicans will be left feeling snookered and frustrated.

At this point, I don’t think scuttling the deal is the best option. For whatever reason, the public is giving Democrats more credit for solving the budget crisis – even though it was clearly they who were in favor of a shutdown for political reasons. We’re just going to have to take the hit on this one and hopefully move forward with more robust cuts in 2012 budget – although at this point, I don’t have a lot of faith in Republican leadership to shepherd such a thing through, especially one as far-reaching as the Ryan budget.

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