My thoughts on the deal struck between Speaker Boehner with President Obama make up my Monday column in the Washington Examiner.
In a phrase: It was a draw. Game tied after the early innings. Not one of the key riders made it through the process, but Boehner proved himself a tough, able negotiator given the hand he was dealt by his appropriators. The cuts are indeed large relative to what has gone before, but they are woefully inadequate to the fiscal crisis facing the country. This accounts for what David Freddoso calls the sense of resignation among conservatives as details emerge. They know the country is still on the cliff, and that markets won’t take much comfort from a tie.
Boehner’s improved close and Paul Ryan’s sweeping budget plan helped the House GOP avoid a disaster after a stumbling, bumbling start to the session which saw the opening spending reduction bid of the GOP Congress come in at almost $10 billion less than what it achieved as a compromise. This is the great lesson for the House GOP: It must cut deep and deeper still in its own deliberations to set up the negotiation in the fall, the one that will matter far more than this one.
The Examiner’s Philip Klein argues it is the best that could have been done. It may be the best that could be done given the flawed opening of the year and the mistakes that marked the lame duck session, but it wasn’t a victory, although it wasn’t a collapse and it wasn’t a rout.
What matters now are the individual appropriations bills that should march quickly through that committee and follow the Ryan plan –and indeed improve on it with spending reductions that the individual subcommittees should be working overtime to find. If the Speaker allows the appropriators to adopt the schedule of years past it will be another lost opportunity. The House should be aggressively moving to set the table for the bigger debates and then use the summer to define the issues and the Senate as the stand-pat big spenders the Reid forces are. When the next round in this drama unfolds as September draws to a close, everyone should be able to point to a consistent argument made from now until then about where we need to be and how we get there via the appropriations process.