When I went to bed last night the shutdown was still looming. I can’t think of when I’ve seen the word “loom” used in so many headlines at once, in fact. So today I see there is a deal. So who blinked?
The short answer is “everyone,” since Dems already had given away a lot more than they should have. But I see this morning that the loony wing of the loony party is angry about the deal and threatening to vote against it, which is a relief. If the baggers don’t like the final bill, it can’t be a total disaster.
Funding for Planned Parenthood is preserved, and they’re angry, because punishing Planned Parenthood for performing abortions is more important to them than running the federal government. NPR and PBS were spared. I see also that the incredibly childish rider that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from actually protecting the environment is out. The Dems have agreed to funding a study that would look at the economic impact of environmental regulations. I hope this study also looks at the economic impact of no environmental regulations, which I suspect would be much higher, long term.
NPR reports that the President has been more involved in the budget process than he appeared to be.
In public, Obama tried to keep it at arm’s length.
“I shouldn’t have to oversee a process in which Congress deals with last year’s budget,” Obama said as the time got short this week.
But in fact he was involved up to his neck.
It was Obama’s veto threat that made clear he would not accept the scope of spending cuts Republicans wanted. It was Obama who said he would accept no more short-term bills to keep the government afloat for a couple weeks at a time unless there was a broader deal in hand. And it was Obama who kept saying it was time for leaders to act like grown-ups.
The White House said his strategy was to stay behind the scenes, work the phones and let his senior aides do the negotiating. That hard-to-see engagement provided a huge opening for Republicans to question his leadership. And it led to rumblings from frustrated lawmakers in his own Democratic Party who wanted Obama to openly attack the cuts Republicans wanted.
I don’t think this is the smartest strategy politically, since it plays into the perception that the President is not really in charge of anything. But that’s what they’re doing.