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Right Turn
Posted at 09:24 PM ET, 04/08/2011

Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has, as Right Turn predicted, a deal, and not just any deal. According to reports, the outlines of a deal include $39 billion in spending cuts and withdrawal of the Planned Parenthood rider. In the end, as Boehner said, it was about money. He got Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to buy the rider, one his caucus was willing to give up, for another billion dollars. The enormousness of the win for Boehner shouldn’t be underestimated, if the deal holds. He didn’t divide his caucus; he kept it together. He didn’t take “no” for an answer ( as in “Not a penny in cuts”); through the course of the year he got a total of $49 billion in cuts. So how’d he do it?

As I’ve reported, Negotiation 101 tells us that a good negotiator gets the other side to “buy” something your own side doesn’t care all that much about. You keep two issues open and trade them off at the end.

Boehner did have something going for him: a completely incompetent White House. The errors include never having an alternative short-term continuing resolution on the table (letting the GOP’s short-term CR be the only “stop the shutdown” document out there for two days); not stepping in to signal that the troops would be paid in some fashion; issuing an incomprehensible veto threat with no alternative; overestimating Boehner’s need to get the Planned Parenthood rider; and underestimating Boehner’s ability to make this about the most popular issue (cutting the deficit). These major White House errors compounded the error of never getting a 2011 budget done when there were large Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.

By contrast, Boehner kept his caucus with him, beginning with a productive Monday meeting with his members. He didn’t flinch when the veto threat came. (Informed sources say that was not expected.) He kept both the rider and the cuts open to the very end and persuaded Reid to overvalue the Planned Parenthood rider.

Boehner is now the most powerful and effective leader in Congress, maybe in Washington. His power will increase immensely. We know who knows how to make a deal at the end (Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Tom Coburn and others supported Boehner publicly when it mattered.) Sen. Jim DeMint showed why he is a Tea Party favorite but is ineffective in the Senate (i.e., staking out the most extreme position and not knowing how to close a deal).

I imagine the Democratic base will be enraged, and liberals should be. They control the Senate and the White House and gave away the store. It doesn’t augur well for them in 2012 budget negotiations, does it?

UPDATE (11:30 p.m.): A joint statement from the Senate majoirty leader and the speaker of the house on the deal: ““We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.” Plus, the rider preventing D.C. funds for abortiona remained in the deal. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will also bring votes to the Senate floor on Planned Parenthood funding and on defunding ObamaCare. If this isn’t a rout I don’t know what is.

By  |  09:24 PM ET, 04/08/2011

Categories:  Budget

 
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