The news from Washington is all about President Obama’s impending triumph in the government shutdown/debt ceiling standoff. “Boehner Blinks,” declared a recent headline
in The Washington Post. “Republicans,” explained
ABC’s Jonathan Karl, “are working out the terms of their surrender.”
If this is Republican surrender, I hope I never see Republican victory.
To understand how upside down the current media analysis is, you need to go back a couple of years. In 2011, with Republicans threatening to provoke a debt default, President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011, which cut government spending by $917 billion over 10 years. The agreement also created a congressional “supercommittee” charged with finding additional cuts. If the committee failed to do so, cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over ten years would kick in automatically at the end of 2012, via a process called “sequestration.”
Traditionally in Washington, budget compromises had meant Democrats agreeing to cut domestic spending and Republicans agreeing to raise taxes. But by raising the specter of default, Republicans had changed the equation. In the Budget Control Act, taxes weren’t raised a dime. Democrats compromised by cutting spending and Republicans “compromised” by agreeing not to let America default on its debt and provoke a global financial crisis.
Not surprisingly, conservatives liked the deal more than liberals. In the House, Republicans backed it by a margin of almost three to one
while Democrats split evenly. “Is this the deal I would have preferred? No,” Obama admitted. By contrast, House Speaker John Boehner boasted
, “I got 98 percent of what I wanted.”