According to the Hill, in this morning’s wee hours:
President Obama and Democratic and Republican congressional leaders reached a last-minute deal Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
The agreement, which came after days of partisan sparring and rhetorical drama, would fund the government through the end of September and cut $78.5 billion compared to Obama’s proposed but never enacted fiscal 2011 budget.
Not sure if this counts as the “net spending cut” Obama promised in the 2008 campaign, but at least as Kristen Soltis (via Glenn Reynolds) put it while negotiations were still ongoing, “the big takeaway from all of this: We are currently debating how much to cut rather than debating whether or not to cut.”
Philip Klein thinks the deal is one “conservatives should be happy about“:
To be sure, conservatives didn’t get much of what they wanted. They didn’t get $100 billion in cuts, or even $61 billion. Planned Parenthood won’t be defunded, neither will ObamaCare. And the EPA won’t be stripped of funding to regulate carbon emissions. But let’s get real. There’s a liberal president and a liberal Senate — House Majority Leader John Boehner cannot impose his will on the rest of the government.
But he did use what leverage he had to get a lot more out of Democrats than they wanted to give up. Democrats didn’t want any spending cuts, and President Obama’s original budget proposed spending that was $78.5 billion higher than what was agreed upon tonight. (The House and Senate are passing a six-day stopgap measure that will cut the first $2 billion and give lawmakers more time to craft a final draft of the bill.) The deal includes a provision that would deny federal funds to pay for abortions in Washington, DC and would allow for Senate votes on the Planned Parenthood funding ban and repeal of ObamaCare — both of which will force vulnerable Democrats into tough votes. And keep in mind that the ban on Planned Parenthood funding would have expired at the end of the budget year — Sept. 30 — anyway.
Not only did Boehner extract these concessions from Reid, but he managed to get these cuts without going through the ordeal of shutting down the government. Boehner now looks like an honest broker and somebody who is reasonable — a big departure from the image of the petty Speaker Newt Gingrich during the 1995/96 budget battles.
Klein is right that given the powers that be in Washington, we couldn’t have gotten an ideal deal. But, at least now the conversation has shifted. We’re no longer talking about “growing” the government, but shrinking it. The vision of Ronald Reagan is now the defining principle of federal budget negotiations. Congress is finally beginning to understand that government is not the solution, it’s part of the problem. A big part.
Kudos particularly to Speaker Boehner. He did a fine job in difficult circumstances. He helped fix a problem created by his predecessor’s inaction.