-The good news: We didn’t have a shut down.
The slightly better news. It looks like the cuts that happened aren’t as bad as we’ve been expecting. (Via The Reid Report. H/T to Taiping2 on the Twitter machine for the link.)
Accounting tricks … earmarks already agreed to … cutting stuff slated for cutting anyway … All the weeping and gnashing of teeth by progressives over the Obama ‘cave in’ on that $38.5 billion cut package appears to be a case of premature dissatisfaction.
The AP begins to unwind the actual factuals:
WASHINGTON – A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.
Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs — Pell grants for poor college students, health research and “Race to the Top” aid for public schools, among others — from Republican knives.
The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until late Monday when it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially “score” as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.
As a result of the legerdemain, Obama was able to reverse many of the cuts passed by House Republicans in February when the chamber passed a bill slashing this year’s budget by more than $60 billion. In doing so, the White House protected favorites like the Head Start early learning program, while maintaining the maximum Pell grant of $5,550 and funding for Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiative that provides grants to better-performing schools.
Go read the entire post if you feel like taking a deep breath of relief. (Especially after reading the early panicky assessments from Paul Krugman and Ezra Kline.)
And of course, the real upside is that it makes John Boehner even less less popular with his caucus. Most of the riders attached to the bill failed to make it into the final bill. (Hooray for Planned Parenthood and PBS!) And the cuts are lower than what the Tea Party were screaming for. And with Eric Cantor standing behind him like a Brundlebooth style combination of Iago and Alex P. Keaton, Boehner has got to be sweating bullets. Tasty Tang flavored bullets.
But make no mistakes, folks. We’re not out of this yet. We’ve got the fight over the Debt Ceiling coming up next and that’s going to be a bone cruncher. Thankfully, The White House has already signaled that they are in no mood for any shenanigans. Via Daily Kos.
While Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner are signaling to support raising the debt ceiling — if spending cuts and entitlement reform are attached — Democrats say they want a clean debt-ceiling vote.
“We do not need to play chicken with our economy by linking the raising of the debt ceiling to anything,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “We should do that right away.”
And in a letter to House Democrats, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) writes, “We ask you to convene a caucus to discuss and establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling vote is about one thing: affirming that America pays its bills. It does not authorize new taxpayer obligations; it affirms to the world our commitment to pay obligations already incurred.”
If you have a Republican representative, you’re going to want to call him or her to press them to vote for a clean bill.
And you should also call them during the summer to protest Rep. Paul Ryan’s insanely flawed budget that would put a bullet in the back of Medicare’s head and solidify the Bush Tax cuts.
You know what? Just put the fuckers on speed dial and stock up on the aspirin.
Make no mistake. Between now and November 2012 is going to be all about damage containment. And the more they go after Medicare and Social Security, the louder we have to yell back, “Fuck, no!”.
If you got loins, start girding them now. It’s going to be a long twenty months.