Let us be up front shall we? The continuing resolution and rest of the year budget deal passed last night was not all we hoped for - but it was a mild success.
After months of hard grass roots level work and pushing for serious cuts to put some sort of, at very least symbolic, dent the agreement on the surface seems to fall flat. After all, instead of defunding the EPA, Planned Parenthood and a host of other big government entitles and making serious cuts the GOP came away empty handed. Right? Not quite.
I must admit after hearing the Planned Parenthood and EPA riders were gone and read reports of the dollar amount being only 33 billion I asked my self how on earth will we ever get true entitlement reform. However, once I examined the actual content of the continuing resolution and the associated riders which did pass I felt quite a bit better. As Reagan once said, "I would rather have 80% than go over the cliff with my flag flying".
Without repeating Steven Foley's detailed post, I would like to highlight a few elements which in fact give us that 80%.
- The amount of debt reduced adds up. The 28.5 billion plus 10 billion cut earlier adds up to 38.5 billion out of the targeted 61 billion. Add in unspent money and we arrive at a 78.5 billion number. No, it is not the 100 billion number - but its darned close. I will take it in a heartbeat. Remember this is last years budget which Democrats refused to even bring to the floor for a vote.
- Money is not one time expenditures. It. will. Add. Up. According to the Wall Street Journal savings from equate to hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. That is real money folks.
- There will be a vote on repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. While neither may pass because Democrats control the United States Presidency and Senate, there will be an up or down vote. Regardless of the results it will be a major step forward to both put elected officials on record and push the ball forward toward repeat.
- The use of tax payer dollars to fund abortions in the District of Columbia is re-instated. Contrary to some media outlets comments, in 2009 Democrats passed and signed legislation which allowed tax dollars to pay for abortions in the Washington, DC area. Under the new CR and budget this can no longer happen.
- IRS additions defunded. Remember all those additional request sought by the Obama administration which would be enforced through a bigger IRS? While the provisions may still be intact, the money to enforce the associated increases are gone.
- Last but not least, the government will become more accountable to citizens. Additional tools were provided within the legislation which would keep a check on elements of Obamacare and Bureaucracies created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act passed last year.
Is it a list of 100% winning items? No.
Did Democrats get away with more corporate cronyism with Planned Parenthood and NPR retaining funding? You betcha.
Am I concerned about the fortitude of our leaders and what it will take to get entitlement reform done on the scale necessary to keep this nation from collapsing financially? Absolutely.
However, credit should be given to Boehner and the Republican leadership for getting us 80% of the way for our first goal and picking up some very important reforms along the way.
If the government shut down and troops, who were clearly being used as pawns, would end up going without pay the political ramifications would be potentially crippling for any shot at winning 2012 and putting honest to God reforms into action.
Most importantly the CR and budget agreement swings momentum toward cutting instead of spending. This change in mind set cannot be under estimated. While it took a literal 11th hour agreement to cut two percent of the budget, the moment is clearly on the side of those seeking to reform and eliminate unnecessary spending.
Perhaps that is the most important element, given that there are forth coming battles for both an increase in debt ceiling and next years budget.
Updated 4/9/2011 with new figures provided sources confirmed on Capital Hill.