A Retraction Of Friday Night’s Winners-And-Losers Post (Updated)

That was an instanalysis, and those are often wrong.

It turns out the closer analysis of the numbers of Friday night’s budget deal reveals Boehner didn’t get $39 billion in cuts.

He got $15 billion.

$15 billion won’t cut it. In fact, $15 billion is going to produce a revolt. $15 billion means Boehner might just have the shortest tenure at the top since that pope who got poisoned.

This is going to be a disaster. This means the freshmen and the Tea Party folks are going to revolt.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to vote against the deal. Voting against the deal means a shutdown. And after all this, the public is not going to be satisfied with the GOP falling apart and shutting down the government.

Of course, the budget deal could fail in the House with more Democrats voting against it than Republicans. That could well happen. The guess is that the GOP would get blamed for the resulting shutdown anyway, but at this point it more or less doesn’t matter, because passing the bill means Boehner’s capitulation on the 2011 budget is – not complete, because cutting the budget at all is a victory, and he did manage that, but something akin to it.

The public thought $61 billion in cuts was a joke. The Democrats can’t stand the idea of cutting $61, much less $61 billion, and they were willing to shut down the government and stiff the troops over funding Planned Parenthood and NPR.

Which says that regardless of how poor the esteem conservatives will hold Boehner in might be, he’s still not the problem. He definitely isn’t the solution; this goatscrew proves that, but he’s not the problem. The problem is Harry Reid and Barack Obama, and that’s a problem which can’t be fixed for another year and a half or so.

So we’re stuck with meager expectations and cat-poop for results. Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. And a GOP leadership without the sand to fight these people.

The debt ceiling was always a better fight than the budget. Perhaps the best way forward is 218 Republicans in the House and 40 in the Senate simply refusing to add to the debt ceiling under any circumstances. Put forth a bill to pay debt service first, get that passed so the government can’t default on its debt, and then the furloughs and rolling government blackouts begin. Download governmental functions to the states where possible so the feds can scrub them off the books. Who knows?

But a trillion-dollar debt limit increase in exchange for another piddling $15 billion in cuts, or at this point even $61 billion or $100 billion, won’t cut it. Boehner has a bad week in front of him, because he’s going to be seen as having betrayed his people. He no longer has any credibility with conservatives.

This whole thing brings back the scene from Braveheart when William Wallace – who’s the Tea Party in this analogy, by the way – goes to Robert the Bruce – who’s Boehner and the rest of the candy-ass GOP leadership – and gives him the “Unite the Clans!” speech.

Of course, we know what happens to William Wallace. There’s a battle, it’s at Falkirk and he finds out that Bruce is actually on the other side. He’s been betrayed.

Bruce does help Wallace get away, so it’s not a total loss. Kinda like getting a $15 billion cut when what you were looking for was $100 billion. But it doesn’t matter – Wallace is pissed. And he sure does take it out on the guys who sold him out.

Kinda like what could happen in party primaries next year.

This whole thing is a powderkeg. And while Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget really is that good, everybody knows it can’t be passed without Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Obama will tomorrow attempt to get on board the deficit-cut train, but of course he’s going to do so by attempting to soak the rich. He’s going to bring back all the stuff from the debt commission he ignored last year, and his drones in the Senate and House will start in with the Wall Street/Big Oil/fatcat class-warfare swill. The American people don’t particularly buy any of it, but unless somebody can step forward with an alternative story it’ll work – at least, it’ll work well enough that Boehner and the Bruces in the leadership will crap their pants and agree to something paltry and worthless in exchange for another trillion dollars on the credit card.

And when that happens, you’re going to have a split. One side will be the Tea Party, who are already out of patience with the GOP as it is and have to keep telling themselves a third party won’t work. And on the other will be the pansies, who think the Tea Party people are unreasonable and what’s important is not to do any damage in advance of the 2012 elections because nothing can get fixed until after them anyway.

All this is by design. And it’s working.

Boehner is a good guy and he cares about his country. His problem is that he’s negotiating against people who don’t care. He’s negotiating against people who see the collapse of the capitalist system and the American economy as a grand opportunity, and who believe that the masses will rally to their side if it goes in the tank – because the GOP will be to blame, after all. It’s their position that Bush caused all this in the first place, and if a shutdown/default trashes the economy before the debts and deficits do it’ll be Boehner and the lunatics from the Tea Party who caused it. And who could put them back in charge?

Against such a vision, a status quo guy like Boehner, who’s terrified of blood on the floor and who doesn’t want to do any harm, is overmatched.

We’re in a lot of trouble. We’d better hope the American people see through this. There’s reason to hope they will; Zogby has Obama’s re-elect numbers all the way down to 38 percent. But if the best you can do is $15 billion, you’re not offering the public anything different than Obama is.

And that’s why Boehner is in deep trouble right now.

UPDATE: In today’s Morning Jolt, NRO’s Jim Geraghty sums up some reactions from elsewhere in the blogosphere…

“I feel like an NFL referee after looking in the instant-replay booth. “After further review,” the cuts are not what we were led to believe.

“And conservatives are rightly irked. The AP tells us that a lot of what is touted as cuts aren’t really what you or I would consider “cuts”:

A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway. . . . Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.

“Any time you see something attributed to “an arcane bookkeeping rule”, you know it’s not good news. I know accountants. They seem like good folks. Why the need for “arcane” rules? What is this, alchemy?

Steven F. Hayward is encouraged by how quickly it’s turning into an issue: “There’s a bright side to this. Unlike back in the Reagan years, when few recognized for weeks or months (or ever) that budget cuts were partly accounting gimmicks, this time we’ve got the goods in less than 72 hours, and moreover, this fact made the front page of theWashington Post. Like Ramesh’s observation yesterday that defunding Planned Parenthood was not even an issue when the GOP held both houses of Congress and the White House but now is, our hair-trigger awareness of budget issues means the next innings will be watched much more closely. Not likely we’ll let Congress push off the cost of Medicare into a parallel universe, for example.”

“The Ace of Spades’ headline is not so cheery: “Suckers. We Were Fooled; Budget Barely Cuts Anything.” His comments — usually a fountain of snark, sarcasm, and well-aimed disdain — are sounding awfully depressed:

I urged Boehner to expose these tricks so that the public could understand what a real cut was and what a real cutwasn’t.So we could not be deceived by the Democrats, or, as it really would wind up happening: So we could not be deceived by Republicans who need to show their constituents cuts but also don’t really want to make those cuts.

I asked him to declare “I will not perpetrate a fraud on the American public.” I’d hoped such a vow would bind him from doing just that.

I assumed, wrongly, that having taken a position against “smoke and mirrors,” he would not foist upon the public a deal containing almost nothing but that.

Once again, I thought well of a Republican and am burned because of it. . . .

My heart is really leaving me on this. I am finding it increasingly hard to care who “wins” and who “loses.” If the system is rigged against what I actually want politically, then there is no point in my engaging with the system at all.

“At Contentions, John Podhoretz sees this all going downhill for Boehner and the GOP in general very quickly: “Already there are indications that a great many House members are going to vote against the deal. What we don’t know, or can’t know, is whether grass-roots velocity has sped up to such a degree over the past several years that we could be looking at a major meltdown of support when the votes are cast, as Republican members honestly balk at the clear deceit of the negotiators in making non-existent cuts in federal spending — and as they fear the wrath of the voters (particularly tea partiers). Meanwhile, Leftist Democrats who feel betrayed by Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might also decide to teach them a lesson by withholding support. And then, all of a sudden, there will be a shutdown. And no plan to end it. And make no mistake — the public will blame the GOP.”

“Worst of both worlds: the grassroots think Boehner sold them out and the public at large getting increasingly frustrated with a government shutdown.”



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