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Many conservative pundits - most notably Andrew Stiles at National Review Online - are touting the budget deal as a great victory for the GOP. Sorry, but I beg to differ. I fear we have yet again been duped by the Democrats and the GOP party establishment. Let me take the Stiles piece and deconstruct it line by line.
“President Obama’s 2011 budget called for a spending increase of $40 billion. Tonight, he touted a bipartisan agreement on “the largest annual spending cut in our history”—some $38.5 billion [emphasis added]. All told, he got $78.5 billion less than he originally requested.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) didn’t want to cut anything at first. But bowing to political reality, eventually ponied up a measly $4.7 billion in cuts. He ended up with $33.8 billion less spending than he wanted. And he called it an “historic” accomplishment. (Not surprisingly, the left is appalled).”
First, this is baseline budgeting - the very thing we chastise Washington for doing. Washington figures if they don’t get the increase they want it amounts to a cut. Only inside the beltway - and at NRO, apparently.
“House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), on the other hand, initially proposed $32 billion in spending cuts. House Republicans, led by an undaunted freshman class, bumped that number up to $61 billion ($100 billion off the president’s budget), before settling on $38.5 billion.
That’s $6.5 billion more than Boehner asked for to begin with, and $5.5 billion more than the $33 billion that Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats claimed had been agreed to less than two weeks ago. It remains to be seen how much of that will be “real” cuts to discretionary spending, but all told, it appears that we’‘ll see a substantial reduction in baseline spending that will yield hundreds of billions in savings over the next decade.”
Huh! In negotiations the parties start out with a throwaway number before coming down to the number they actually want. Boehner’s throwaway number was $32 billion to start; his actual number wasn’t too far from Reid’s, who undoubtedly would have been happy with a compromise of 15 to 20 billion. HE started low! Boehner knew in advance that deep cuts were what the freshman - and those Americans who gave them and him their seats - wanted, yet he purposely lowballed. Why? Either he is grossly incompetent, or he really doesn’t believe in making those cuts. I suspect the latter.
“As Boehner himself repeated throughout this debate, “Republicans control just one-half of one-third of the federal government.” And yet look out the outcome. Democrats, the bigger two-thirds of the government, consistently reneged on their position, agreeing to more and more cuts. 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 sides 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.”’
BUT they control the one half of one third that originates the budget. THEY are the ones who hold the purse. Yes, Reid could have rejected the cuts, and yes Obama could veto them, but the first duty of the new House was not to compromise but to attempt to fulfill their promises.
And “we’ve changed the conversation” is a load of manure; with the media firmly in the Democratic camp, that changed conversation won’t last. Oh, and THEY didn’t do anything; the conversation changed last November, when the public made it clear they were mad as hell at the spending to begin with. The conversation should have been about what the public wanted, not “the best deal we could get”. The public is tired of deals, tired of surrendering to special interests and backroom backslapping.
Let us press on:
“Of course, not all conservatives are pleased with the outcome. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), told NRO that he would vote against the deal and predicted a “significant number of no votes” from conservative and freshman members of the Republican Study Committee, which he chairs. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) and Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) both said they were “disappointed” by with the final deal (both are also seeking higher office).
Boehner might need a few Democratic votes to pass the deal—that was always a likely outcome. But the narrative constantly pushed by Democrats and the media—that “extreme” Tea Party members would force him to shut down the government—never materialized. As a result, not only does it look like Boehner got the best deal in terms of spending cuts, but he also comes off as the most reasonable actor in the debate, the one who worked the hardest to reach a compromise.”
So, now the National Review is calling the Tea Party extreme - a page directly from the Democrat Caucus.
Beohner may or may not have gotten the best deal on budget cuts (he didn’t really TRY for a better one) but it is still a measly 38.5 billion out of 3.83 trillion dollars, and a trillion dollars is a thousand billion. This doesn’t even qualify for chump change. And it’s even more puny when compared to the total national debt.
As for that “most reasonable actor” bit, I could keel over in my chair! First off, conservatives abandoned the GOP because they kept trying to appear the most reasonable; we want something a touch more radical. George W. Bush and then John McCain tried the “reasonable” approach and it gained no real support from the daunted “moderates”. The Democrats called Bush a radical because he let them - and McCain believed triangulating would buy him votes, when all it did was lead to failure. People do not respect a loser - or a weakling. The conventional wisdom is a load of horse pucky, because instead of making the enemy respect you they realize they can kick you around. George W. Bush was constantly impugned as a radical and a rigid fellow, and that was because he was not. His willingness to compromise was perceived as weakness. And with the media backing the narrative, the Democrats eventually tarred Bush as a radical. This “looking reasonable” is a loser’s game.
And Boehner does not look reasonable at any rate, but rather looks like he caved. To those beloved independents, Obama appears to be the guy in the middle. The media intended it so, and I fear it is the way many who do not pay attention will perceive it.
Which means that, in six months when the 2012 budget battle begins, Boehner will be in a hard place. The Democrats will claim they compromised on the last budget and it’s time for the GOP to show grace in return, and Boehner will have little to fight with. A shutdown in the next battle WILL be blamed on Boehner and the GOP. This will be especially true as the official economic numbers will be up to make Obama look good, and there may be less willingness to take drastic action. Certainly the GOP isn’t going to shut the government down that close to an election.
As is true in most sports, boxing has a cardinal rule; when the opponent is hurt move in for the kill. The Democrats were hurt here, yet our side failed to act decisively to wipe them out. We were poised for a knockout and yet backed off and fought defensively. Opportunities multiply as they are seized, Sun Tzu famously observed, yet we failed to seize this one. It may not come again.
Let’s return for Stiles’ conclusion:
“Republicans should feel plenty confident heading into the upcoming debates over the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget, Paul Ryan’s daring proposal to cut the deficit by $6 trillion. This deal, thanks to Boehner’s robust leadership, was a good start—much less for the size of the spending cuts it yielded than for the political dynamic it revealed. They will need all the political capitol they can muster going forward, because it’s only the beginning.”
To quote Jackie Gleason “hardy, har, har, har!” If Boehner and our side couldn’t stand firm for sixty billion in cuts, how can they stand firm for Ryan’s plan? What political capital is Stiles speaking about? They’ve ticked off their natural base.
Why didn’t the GOP demand the return of all the stimulus money? There is at least sixty billion left in the stimulus, which remains as part of a Democrat slush fund. Couldn’t Boehner have made that part of the budget? Couldn’t he have demanded the full hundred billion and then offered to use stimulus money to fund the cuts? He didn’t
I keep hearing that we have the momentum on our side, yet nobody explains how this will move our agenda forward. When you surrender $61 billion from your demands, how is that gaining momentum? (The Tea Party wanted 100 billion in cuts.) From where I sit, it looks more like the Germans at Stalingrad than Patton in Sicily.
Now was the time to fight. We may have gained some ground over the last couple of years, but hardly enough. We settled for an armistice instead of a victory. We saved perhaps ONE WEEK’s worth of spending. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to party.
Look at how the Democrats took power in the first place; they used bold colors, refusing to triangulate. Nancy Pelosi was proudly, defiantly left wing. People are tired, tired, tired of the backroom deals and smarmy political games, and they were willing to give the Dems a try. They were grossly displeased with the results (although the Senate remained in Democrat hands, a testament to the pathetic weakness of the GOP) but they did give them control of Congress to begin with. Our side lost that fight because the GOP were unwilling to act like men, preferring to cower in the shadows and say “me too!” Nobody likes a yes-man.
And if Boehner believes he’ll get those up or down votes from the Senate, I have some swampland to sell him. Harry Reid will say whatever he needs to say, and do whatever he needs to do. Boehner has nothing but Reid’s word on this - the word of a proven liar and hypocrite. Even if Reid does allow a vote on repealing Obamacare it will be done in such a way as to turn things back on the Republicans. Imagine a rider being added that defunds the military, for instance, then Reid will say they had no choice but to vote it down.
The reality is that the Democrats are already on record voting for Obamacare - and that while the public was being well-informed and were angry. Another vote may help, but it will fall victim to the law of diminishing returns. When Rhett Butler said “damned” in a movie people were shocked; now people engage in intercourse in movies that play in regular theatres, and nobody seems to notice. Why? People got used to it little by little. The time to strike is when the public is angry, yet our side seems to think they will derive benefit out of it later. Nobody is going to be especially surprised by a NO vote on defunding Obama’s medicine show.
Another point to ponder; Boehner had to know that the Dems would roll out this dirty trick of defunding the military in the event of a showdown, and if he didn’t, he is too incompetent to be in charge. Some people think he USED it to force his own caucus to obey his will.
I’ve never trusted the man, and wouldn’t be at all surprised. Boehner wants to be the Big Man, to enjoy his time in Washington, and he doesn’t want to rock the boat. The Tea Party is rocking it, and they must be tampered down. Remember when Boehner wanted to assign staff to the freshmen? That was to keep them in line. This, I suspect, was more of the same.
These guys needed to come out swinging. The public is sick of get along politics, and wants change. Obama was elected because he whispered the change mantra, and yet he turned out to be the tired old left-wing politics we’ve all come to know and hate. But that desire for real change is still in the hearts and minds of Americans, and it was with great reluctance that they fired the Democrats in favor of a GOP that had abdicated their responsibilities just a couple of years before. There was no real reason to believe the GOP was any different - and this deal tells the American People that they have learned precisely nothing.
It’s the same old, same old.
Boehner has caved on several things already; prom night at the State of the Union, defunding Obamacare (because of procedural rules), and now this. The GOP cannot afford a defensive action; the enemy is assaulting on every front, and a failure to fight aggressively will lead to a rout. The Democrats have the media, academia, most of the means of disseminating information. For the public to keep the fire burning they have to see results, or at least a solid effort. Abraham Lincoln fired several generals during the Civil War because they were unwilling to fight; HE understood the need to show the public that they were serious. John Boehner and the leadership of the GOP do not seem to understand that lesson.
No, the momentum is not with our side. Boehner effectively castrated the GOP in the House by laying his cards out at the start and pushing compromise. Compromise is a habit; the GOP got used to doing things that way during the 2000 era, and they are back to the same bad habit. Compromise gets easier every time you do it. Anyone trying to break a bad habit, lose weight, quit smoking, etc. knows that the first compromise usually ends your diet, or your cessation of smoking. Give in once and you will give in many times.
I cannot understand why so many on our side do not understand this.