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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Better than Newt 


House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, seem to have struck a deal last night to cut around $39 billion from the 2011 budget, which has only five months remaining. A shut-down has been averted, and it is more than even Speaker Boehner thought possible a few weeks ago.

Yes, the cuts are trivial compared to the magnitude of the American fiscal disaster, but they are the largest ever in a time of war and larger than half the difference between the parties at the opening bid and ask. The question is how they set the stage for the much larger fight to come over the 2012 budget.

Regardless, the fight seems to have established Speaker Boehner as the real deal -- read this interesting write-up in the Washington Post for more along those lines (including a discussion of the role of the "policy riders," which I certainly was hoping were bargaining chips just as the Defense cuts were to the Democrats). The comparisons to Newt's similar confrontation 16 years ago are quite favorable, and probably do not help Gingrich's presidential aspirations. Bonus!

Perhaps the best indication that this deal is good news for conservatives is that liberals are unhappy, particularly with the Democratic spin:

The substance of this deal is bad. But the way Democrats are selling it makes it much, much worse.

The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals. In the end, the real negotiation was not between the Republicans and the Democrats, or even the Republicans and the White House. It was between John Boehner and the conservative wing of his party. And once that became clear, it turned out that Boehner’s original offer wasn’t even in the middle. It was slightly center-left.

But you would’ve never known it from President Obama’s encomium to the agreement. 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.

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.

I am not sure that Ezra is correct about that last sentence, but I sure hope he is.

5 Comments:

By Blogger DEC, at Sat Apr 09, 12:25:00 PM:

TH: "The comparisons to Newt's similar confrontation 16 years ago are quite favorable, and probably do not help Gingrich's presidential aspirations. Bonus!"

At the moment, I'm pushing for a Trump-Gingrich ticket.  

By Anonymous Old Fan, at Sat Apr 09, 12:34:00 PM:

Well stated TH.

Have to strongly agree. Seeing some still cling to a very emotive and stereotypical anti-GOP fashion, revealed even prior to when they knew what the deal was in detail last night.

Some are "STUCK" on the good side, having their 'feelings' get the best of them.

Boehner grows and the GOP in the House reminds all again, the nonsense of the "two Parties are the same" denial. Facts simply do not add up with this fashionable push which has blurred reality. Boehner, Ryan, Cantor, Blackburn, etc., are not Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Clinton, etc., and only a fool tries to convince others of this sophistry.

I cannot agree with DEC. Trump was a Democrat who plays people all the time. He was a terrible Bush basher when the fashion winds blew, and now plays the fashion today again. Both Gingrich and Trump would make a perfect Egotist Party. They serve themselves. Gingrich posing with Hillary for the cameras prior to the 2008 election is a prime example. His self absorbing nature is an ideal match for Trump, and both would lose before they got started, giving the disastrous Democratic Partisan offering a gift when it is headed for defeat.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Apr 09, 08:32:00 PM:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Let’s hope Boehner & Co can build on this. It’s actually not that big a win, but can represent a turning point. I mean, when you’ve lost Ezra Klein …

Boehner is the balls. Very retro. Can you picture him in a cameo on Mad Men, holding a cocktail, smoking a Camel? Lest we forget, Boehner did an epic thing back when Energy passed the House. Pelosi always had the votes, but Boehner’s extemporaneous quasi-filibuster during the House vote shamed the Democrats into failure in the Senate. That alone should win him place in our American political Pantheon.

Speaking of Ezra, he still believes that we’re in danger of NOT spending our way out of our current predicament. Ezra, please stay away from the Brown Krugman Acid.

We’re going to crash. It’s inevitable. But Captain Sully showed that you can crash a plane and still have everyone get out alive, with stories to tell for a lifetime. Or we can do a United 93 face plant … Developing …

This is because we’ll never see sustainable 4.0% GDP growth ever again, on current trajectory. We’ve passed the point where we can sufficiently correct our trajectory.

Put differently, we’re Chapter 11 reorganization broke. We’re not yet Chapter 7 liquidation broke. The former means you re-write contractual obligations that can’t be met.

I had thought that 4.0% GDP growth was our birthright. Occasional bouts of global 4.0% GDP growth have done wondrous things in the history of Man, lest we forget. Without it, most of us would still be shitting outdoors, leading short brutish lives.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 09, 08:33:00 PM:

Ignoramus

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Let’s hope Boehner & Co can build on this. It’s actually not that big a win, but can represent a turning point. I mean, when you’ve lost Ezra Klein …

Boehner is the balls. Very retro. Can you picture him in a cameo on Mad Men, holding a cocktail, smoking a Camel? Lest we forget, Boehner did an epic thing back when Energy passed the House. Pelosi always had the votes, but Boehner’s extemporaneous quasi-filibuster during the House vote shamed the Democrats into failure in the Senate. That alone should win him place in our American political Pantheon.

Speaking of Ezra, he still believes that we’re in danger of NOT spending our way out of our current predicament. Ezra, please stay away from the Brown Krugman Acid.

We’re going to crash. It’s inevitable. But Captain Sully showed that you can crash a plane and still have everyone get out alive, with stories to tell for a lifetime. Or we can do a United 93 face plant … Developing …

This is because we’ll never see sustainable 4.0% GDP growth ever again, on current trajectory. We’ve passed the point where we can sufficiently correct our trajectory.

Put differently, we’re Chapter 11 reorganization broke. We’re not yet Chapter 7 liquidation broke. The former means you re-write contractual obligations that can’t be met.

I had thought that 4.0% GDP growth was our birthright. Occasional bouts of global 4.0% GDP growth have done wondrous things in the history of Man, lest we forget. Without it, most of us would still be shitting outdoors, leading short brutish lives.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sat Apr 09, 08:43:00 PM:

I am reminded of Reagan's victory at Reykjavik, (which turned out to be the penultimate battle in the Cold War) where he allowed Gorbachev to take a great deal of the credit.

It's not a race to save a party, it's a race to save our country. If the Democrats need some credit to stay on the playing field, fine. Irritation is not a strategy, results are.

Next time we come back for more. This fall 25% of Democrats have space to not only hold Schumer at arm's length, but tell him to take a hike. The danger now is that dinosaurs in their death throes can create a helluva lot of damage, and usually take longer to croak than we expected. One more major wound, this fall. Focus on it.  

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