Post-Mortem on Last Night’s Deal

I think Politico has it about right: John Boehner and the Republicans did well to negotiate the deal they finally agreed to:

His colleagues stood and cheered at his announcement of a deal, knowing Boehner secured more than $38.5 billion in cuts, a far higher figure than many of them expected just days before. …
In a larger sense, Boehner has achieved more than just a short-term budget victory — in his first three months as speaker, he’s helped turn the entire Washington dialogue into a debate about the size and scope of government. He started the year by getting rid of earmarks, he’s pushing through some of the deepest spending cuts in American history, and he’ll now try to get most of the GOP Conference on board with Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal 2012 budget — one of the most audacious long-term spending plans in recent memory. …
Controversial policy riders covering Planned Parenthood and EPA climate change regulations had threatened to sink the whole, multi-tiered agreement, but Boehner was able to shift that battle over to the Senate. Planned Parenthood funding will be debated and voted on in the Senate, as will the repeal of the massive 2010 health care reform package passed by Reid and then Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
In addition, “numerous studies” of the health care bill will be ordered, the results of which could provide the GOP with juicy political ammo heading into next year’s elections. The District of Columbia will be blocked from using federal funds to pay for abortions, while the IRS will be barred from hiring additional agents. Yearly audits will be conducted by the Government Accountability Office and private industry on the impact of last year’s financial services reform package as well, a major plus for Wall Street and the banking industry.
Boehner even took care of a pet project of his own — federal funding for vouchers for D.C. public school students. …
In the end, Boehner got far more than he gave up, and far more than Obama, Reid and the Democrats were initially willing to offer. It sets the stage for a stronger hand for Boehner as he enters politically perilous fights to raise the debt ceiling and pass 2012 spending bills.

I think that is correct. The fight over FY 2011 spending was really an afterthought, driven by the fact that the Democrats never got around to passing a budget last year. The real battles will come this summer, first over legislation to raise the debt ceiling, which can’t be avoided; then, perhaps, over the FY 2012 budget, although the Democrats might try to dodge that fight by, once again, refusing to adopt a budget at all.
Michael Ramirez is right, of course, that the cuts just agreed upon are only a small down payment on what needs to be done:
But entitlements, where the real battleground lies, were not on the table in the continuing resolution. That battle remains to be fought, and it will begin with Republicans enjoying significant momentum from their success last night.

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