A Budget Deal and a Disaster

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


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But in the meantime, with the budget showdown being mostly a prelude to the reconciliation of the deficit crisis, Republicans have forfeited a vitally important leverage point by accepting last week’s budget deal. It is a conveniently overlooked reality that the chief federal financial burdens are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Without tackling these equally ponderous 800-pound gorillas in the room, genuine fiscal and deficit reform is impossible.

But to stanch these programs, Republicans will have to face the full weight of the ruthless Democratic machine, which will take an enormous amount of staying power to withstand. In accepting a budget compromise with Democrats in lieu of a government shutdown — showing that the Republican Party is not willing to undertake drastic measures — Republicans have displayed the fullest extent of their resolve too soon. Democrats would be safe to assume that Republicans do not have the will to pursue anything approaching the ambitious Ryan Roadmap, with its incisive cuts to entitlements, and that another “compromise” is in the cards when it comes time to handle the deficit.

The same could be said for matters beyond the deficit and the budget. Clearly, the GOP has not been able to derail major points of Obama’s leftist agenda. While some parts of Obamacare will be defunded, the majority of the initiative will continue on. The EPA will not be blocked from regulating carbon. The NLRB will not be required to end secret ballots in union contests.  Medicaid block grants will continue to be turned over to the states. Welfare spending will not be cut nor work requirements imposed. The right clearly wanted all of that to happen as soon as possible, but the left obstinately stood in their way.

What’s next? The president says he’ll unveil a plan that will cut spending using “a scalpel, not a machete.” Republicans have promised to leverage a coming vote on raising the debt ceiling to force Democrats into accepting more cuts. Among the measures that the GOP is putting on the table are new, deeper spending cuts, a statutory cap on spending, a constitutional amendment calling for a balanced budget and a new system where budgets are drafted for two years at a time, instead of one. Winning on those issues is the ultimate end-game for conservatives. While it’s clear that conservative have managed to wrestle the nature of policy debate over to their side in 2012, it’s far from certain how the average voter will respond on Election Day. Much is at stake, but only a small fraction of the electorate recognizes that troublesome fact.

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  • Andres de Alamaya

    America presently doesn't even have a one-eyed man to become king. The decision makers are all blind and the dollar will continue to shrivel.

  • Chezwick_mac

    TRZUPEK: "Thus, everything leading up to [2012] is politics, not change you can believe in."

    Agreed. That's why this compromise should be seen for what it is, a tactical maneuver. Trzupek undermines his own argument by acknowledging the need for Republican electoral advance in order to further the debt-reduction agenda ("…will only happen if the GOP takes control of the Senate and White House in 2012, or manages to create a veto-proof majority in the Senate and House if Obama is re-elected").

    Before the agreement, I pointed out that this was not 1996, that the public is much more aware today of debt-reduction as a national imperative. But in hindsight, a prolonged shut-down over $23 billion just wasn't worth the risks.

    One can speculate that this agreement shows the Republicans aren't serious about debt reduction. Another take would be – in the lieu of Rep Ryan's blueprint – that Republicans still own the issue but are not so ideologically driven that they would throw a monkey-wrench into the system and self-destruct on a matter of principle.

    Politics is the art of the possible. In other words, the party of the Tea Party has shown itself to be a party that can responsibly govern.

    ON TO 2012!!!

    • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

      Kudos for Speaker Boehner. He caused the party of SPEND BABY SPEND to cave into $39 billion in spending cuts. Quite an achievement considering the spendthrift loons still control the White House, Senate and MSM. A defining moment in turning a corner on national bankruptcy this wasn't. It was a start.

    • Maxie

      "That's why this compromise should be seen for what it is, a tactical maneuver."

      A tactical maneuver? Like dropping into the fetal position?
      The problem with this country is that we have a GOP "opposition party" which invariably punts whenever it gets First and Goal on the one-inch line.

      • Chezwick_mac

        That's one way to look at it, Maxie. I don't preclude the possibility that I'm wrong…and I certainly understand your frustration. Still, shutting down the government is not my idea of a score. It is messy, unpopular, and historically has negative political repercussions for Republicans who precipitate it.

        Meanwhile, the MSM attempt to paint the Tea Party as "extremist" would have been given fresh fodder with a shut-down. As it is, we've denied them that narrative.

        A difference of $23 billion was just not worth the cost. We have MAJOR cuts involving trillions in the offing. Why shoot your load over a skirmish…when the REAL battle – 2012 – is still a year away?

        • Maxie

          C_Mac- Denied the media fresh fodder? The media will ALWAYS find fodder to criticize the GOP. Even if they have to make it up. That's what they do. But you've stumbled into a troubling pathology that seems to characterize GOP solons: They're terrified of bad press and let that fear deter them from the hard decisions needed to get this leftist train off the track to hell. Political cowardice loses both battles and wars. We can no longer afford to concede skirmishes or cave-in to media intimidation which will never cease.

          • Chezwick_mac

            "The media will ALWAYS find fodder to criticize the GOP."

            Indeed…and sometimes it will stick, and sometimes it won't, depending on the issue. Sometimes it behooves us to look at an issue beyond our ideological prism…other times, we have to stick to our guns.

            It's real easy for us sitting on the sidelines to talk about "political cowardice"….for those like Boehner, fighting it out in the trenches, with the fortunes of the party on his shoulders, it's an ever-so-slightly different world. Had we gone ahead with the shut-down and it ended up costing the GOP 2012, no one would remember you or your advocacy, but Boehner would be the goat that gave Obama 4 more years and lost the country in the process.

            Ideologues want the whole hog right away. I'm just more of a realist. I believe you pick your fights…rather than rush head-long into the abyss. $23 billion was not the moment or the rational for something as drastic as a shut-down.

            I reiterate though, I'm not presupposing I have a lock on the truth.

          • Jim_C

            You, sir, understand politics.

            Everyone thinks it's about waving a magic wand of righteousness. No, it's about sitting down with the other half of the country that doesn't agree with you and hashing it out. As for the media, let's knock off this liberal media thing–it's ALL of them. The whole "BUDGET STANDOFF!!!!" of the media was a total, idiotic pantomime of real information. A complete embarrassment–"WHO WINS, WHO LOSES??" I'm glad I don't get my info from TV–what passes for journalism on there sickens me.

          • Chezwick_mac

            "I don't get my info from TV–what passes for journalism on there sickens me."

            Unfortunately Jim, print media is not much better. One has the prerogative of reading between the lines of biased journalism and extrapolating fact from opinion, but you can't read between the lines of stories the media refuses to cover.

  • geez

    What do you expect, the House is being lead by an alcoholic. A twelve year old could negotiate with more skill than Boehner. I'd like to know how much these politicians drink on average per week on our dime.

  • SHmuel HaLevi

    Dismay must not take hold. But keeping on the same elements as Representatives or Senators will not change the forecast.
    America has lost a terrific amount of credibility and is not gaining a bit by "compromsing". Am I sure American are aware and will make wise decisions?
    I hope so and fast.

  • FactsRule

    I think that the Democrat attack & lie machine was out there, even lying about Republicans wanting to defund Planned Parenthood ( a great thing to do) after it had been conceded a day earlier. Democrats won big time by using this whole situation as a bat to beat the weak Republican leadership over the head. Boehner had 3 continuing resolutions, weeks to prepare to begin discussions from a far superior position based on the Nov. elections. He should have started with a demand that 200 billion be cut by cutting federal programs that do the same thing as others. Why are we paying for 2 programs that are both doing the same thing? He should have had press conferences showing the video tape of Planned Parenthood covering up child prostitution as is easily viewed on youtube. There should have been major points made from the right as Dems. kept making from the Left, in between demonizing the Republicans they were supposed to be working with. I was so pissed that more Republicans weren't pointing out to cameras the lies & hatred of the Left that was aimed at Republicans durring this process.

    • Jim_C

      Democrats did not win big time. Some people get politics, and some people don't. I WISH Boehner had shown the Planned Parenthood "covering up child prostitution" video. It would have torpedoed his case sooner.

      It comes down to this: Republicans say they want spending cuts AND tax cuts AND they expect to win elections. Even without democratic opposition–you can't have all three.

  • Karl

    I don't often write in these boards, but I must, must inform you of the current rise in Canadian dollar, and why.
    C$104.45 to US$.96 – this morning.
    OIL.
    If you don't put a rig EVERYWHERE you can, and PUMP,PUMP,PUMP, you will lose your country. Canada will NOT follow… Commodities Based Economy, with huge OIL contracts in United States, China, India, C$1.09 – by years end.
    Don't think they're in any smarter up here, now that they've FOUND- Home Equity Lines of Credit, and cheap money.
    Must raise interest rates, and keep credit card rates high.
    We don't need the United States to bring us down, WE CAN DO IT ALL BY OURSELVES!
    I agree with 75% of what your Obama says, and DISAGREE with 80% of what he does.
    Help!

  • http://hillseeker.110mb.com/ hillseeker

    A recent WSJ poll shows that 70% of the U.S wants to solve our deficit problem by taxing people who earn more than $250,000 – not be cutting entitlements. Also, our electorate is changing – for instance two out of every three Hispanic voters voted for Obama. So the outlook for our economy is bleak. Maybe the Republicans had to accept any deal that Obama agreed to, because otherwise they would have appeared as fanatics who shut down the government. On the other hand – the cuts were tiny compared to our deficit, and it appears to the dumb electorate that Obama is doing something about the deficit, and compromising with Republicans, etc.

  • tanstaafl

    They cut somethin' and that's not nothin'. But really, the barge of government spending is hard to re-direct, especially with Cap'n What-me-worry? at the helm.

  • fantum

    I HOPE YOU WILL PARTICIPATE AND DO YOUR PART!

    Using Obama's proposed 2012 budget of $3.5 TRILLION, the GOP has forced the Democrats to cut $38.5 billion.

    WOW! I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2000 a month on groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc, but it's time to get out the budget cutting axe, go through my expenses, and cut back.

    I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio, %0.0011 of my total budget. After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2000 a month; I'm going to have to cut that number by $2.20. Yes, I'm going to have to get by with only $1997.80, but that's what sacrifice is all about. I'll just have to do without some things, that are, quite frankly, luxuries.

    Did these clowns actually think no one would do the math?

    Run-away Spending… http://usataxpayer.org/?0055577011

    Cut the Budget, Really? http://usataxpayer.org/?0093613875

    • Jim_C

      Good work! Now apply the same household budget analogy to Ryan's plan.

      Oops! You have made the ultimate sacrifice–both agreeing not to buy ANY more groceries, medicine, etc. AND giving up the income to pay for them anyway, so that someone who hasn't had to sacrifice yet can get a tax break!

  • tagalog

    What happens if the government is shut down? If you followed the MSM news programs, the national parks wouild shut down (by the way, that doesn't mean people couldn't still get in to them) and people would be forced (forced, mind you!!) to re-plan their vacations and plans to visit the Lincoln Memorial. One big REAL problem would be the paychecks for the federal armed forces.

    I agree that the Republicans must and should keep on fighting for more and more cuts in spending, but this "compromise" is a weak example of bipartisan agreement made to keep the government running. It's a mighty poor excuse for success in the financing of government.

  • jacob

    Thank GOD I learned from FOX NEWS that if and when the govmt. would have been
    shut down, neither the President, the secretaries nor Congress would have been
    hit in their pockets…

    INTERESTING, isn't it ??

    And by yhe way, has anybody heard anything from the senator who replaced Ted
    Kennedy after getting together with the ANNOITED ONE ??

    Was he promised paradise per chance ??

  • socal

    Theyre not called the STUPID party for nothin!!