A Government Shutdown Averted . . . For Now

The White House and House Republicans reached an agreement late Friday night on a budget deal that would avert a government shutdown. The proposed six-month deal would cut domestic spending and foreign aid by more than $40 billion from the rate of spending at the beginning of this Congress. Behind the closed doors of a special meeting of the Republican Conference, Speaker John Boehner presented the package to his Tea Party caucus as at least an agreement in principle. President Obama, for his part, hailed the deal as "the biggest annual spending cut in history". GOP riders on Title X subsidies and on EPA regulations were deferred.

The House and Senate quickly approved a stopgap measure to keep the government running. The final deal would still require another vote sometime next week.

Politico has more details on what the agreement entails.

President Barack Obama noted late Friday that a last-minute deal to avert a government shutdown happened because "Americans of different beliefs came together ... Both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them. And I certainly did that. Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed.""

Painful for whom? Certainly not for the wealthy in this country who remain undertaxed even as their wealth accumulates to proportions of gross indecency. No, when it comes to doling out painful austerity measures, these fall disproportionately on the weakest members of society.

As per the needed infrastructure projects, well that's just insane as well. Over the past few months, Republican Governors have killed important and vitally needed infrastructure projects in New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida. I'm not sure how to recreate the political conditions that led to the interstate highway system initiated during the Eisenhower Administration, but until the American right obtains an equivalent conviction regarding the urgent need to update the rapidly decaying and outmoded infrastructure across the nation, the country will fall further and further behind in the global economy. And that serves no one.

To be perfectly candid, we have a President who refuses to lead. President Obama sees himself as some Solomonian arbiter who rises above the partisan divide to bridge irreconcilable differences. Pity, for one, that he gets few political dividends for his efforts. To many on the right, he remains some sort of Marxist Kenyan born usurper who is committed to subverting the Constitution - no matter his stance on any issue, there are some who will take the opposite position even if they have to run through harried hula hoops of hypocrisy as Newt Gingrich recently did on Libya - while to much of his base, he remains simply an enigma. What are Barack Obama's values? For what and for whom will he fight? Nearly 27 months into his Presidency, for those on the left these questions remain unanswered. 

If the Democrats won this round in the court of public opinion, which for now it seems that they did if only marginally, they did so because of the leadership coming from the Senate. It was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Patty Murray of Washington who were out in the front battle lines defending the rights of women to adequate health care and the cause of reproductive freedom. Honorable mentions to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter for speaking out on the GOP's war on women.

The Republicans were their own worst enemies but given their base, it is unlikely to hurt them that much, though I suspect the gender gap in next year's election will only grow. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana likely cemented his following among social conservatives. It was Pence who led the charge against Title X subsidies. Surprisingly, Rep. Michelle Bachmann showed signs of sanity being among the first on her side of the aisle to call for a clean bill, free of any controversial riders. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who made a similar plea, however, was ravaged on conservative websites such Free Republic and Red State for merely suggesting such a compromise. Bachmann largely proved immune to attacks, suggesting that she maintains a street cred with Tea Party activists that is the envy of others on the right. One other loser, who is growing more irrelevant by the day, is Sarah Palin. She took to Facebook again with another diatribe against the President and she was unceremoniously ignored. 

Tags: US Politics, Budget Crisis, Senator Harry Reid, President Barack Obama, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Rep. Mike Pence (all tags)

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