More Thoughts On the Debt Ceiling Deal

Conservatives are hotly debating the pros and cons of the debt ceiling deal. In that context, it is useful to look at the compromise from our opponents’ point of view. So check out this memo by the Senate Democratic Policy & Communications Center. It indicates how the Democrats are presenting the deal to their key constituencies. First, the document as a whole; then some quotes:

One of the things I dislike about the debt ceiling deal is that budgets will be “deemed” to be in effect for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, even though in fact no budget process will be followed and no budget adopted. The Democrats view this as a key virtue of the agreement:

The compromise expected to pass today, in effect, “deems” a budget resolution passed for each of the next two fiscal years. This effectively sets the top-line spending levels–the so-called “302(a) allocations–for both FY 2012 and FY 2013. These top-line levels are specified as follows: $1.043 trillion for FY 2012, and $1.047 trillion for FY 2013. These figures represent a reduction of $7 billion and $3 billion, respectively, in budget authority, relative to FY 2011 levels.

Those savings in discretionary spending are obviously puny. Moreover, the Democrats are proud of the fact that of the $7 billion cut in FY 2012, $4 billion will come from defense spending. They also point out that “deeming” budgets to be enacted “greatly reduces the odds of a budget standoff at the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.”

So, was the debt ceiling deal a victory for conservatives? I don’t think so. The trillions of dollars in cuts being trumpeted in the press will mostly prove fictitious, I fear, and the idea of a 12-person super-committee being entrusted with the details of future budget-cutting is bad for any number of reasons. Nevertheless, the debt ceiling deal is encouraging and represents a step forward for conservatives.

Here is the analogy I would offer: in the past, liberals have steamrollered conservatives on pretty much all issues relating to spending; hence today’s federal spending that almost everyone regards as out of control. This time, conservatives stood our ground and fought the liberals to a draw. This was not the end of the battle over the budget, but rather the beginning. We conservatives have a long way to go to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. On the other hand, we also have another election in November 2012. Like John Paul Jones, we should let the liberals know that we have not yet begun to fight.

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