Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Boehner Expedition

For all the drama we've been witnessing in the past few weeks over the budget showdown, you might have thought there was a serious fight going on between the President & Republican leaders in the House. On hearing the news of the compromise that has been reached on the continuing resolution, it seems to me that what was most important to these negotiators was finding an agreement that would allow everyone involved to suffer the least amount of political damage possible.

Seriously, with all the momentum going against President Obama since the elections, and with monthly deficits running over $200 billion a month--all that Boehner & Co. can force the Democrats into agreeing to cut is an extra $6 billion dollars?  This is a victory, a triumph?

What has been shown here is that for Boehner there is a new third rail in politics--"shutting down" the government.  After seeing how Boehner has behaved in the past two budget fights, I have a lot of trouble imagining that he will be any tougher when the battle over the 2012 budget begins this summer.  I don't have any way of knowing what assurances Boehner has or hasn't given to Paul Ryan about how much support he can expect for his new budget plan, but for now it seems to me likely that Ryan is going to have to drag the Republican leadership kicking and screaming in pursuit of serious budget reform.

I think it's easy to predict that the Democrats are going to fight in every way they know how against Paul Ryan's proposal for next year.  Seeing the results of Boehner's past two budget negotiations has me worried he's already given the Democrats a winning strategy in that fight--all they need do in the end is threaten to shut down the government.  Faced with that threat, I'm afraid what we'll get from Boehner yet again is another "best deal we could get."

Maybe it will be the best deal he could get, but the way things look now, I doubt it will be the deal we need.

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