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This Boehner-Obama Deal Is Getting Worse All The Time


Paul Ryan says he will support the Boehner-Obama budget deal. “After sharply criticizing how it came together, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan announced he would support the budget deal Wednesday. “What I’ve heard from members over the last two weeks is a desire to wipe the slate clean, put in place a process that builds trust, and start focusing on big ideas,” Ryan said in a statement. “What has been produced will go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us, and that’s why I intend to support it. It’s time for us to turn the page on the last few years and get to work on a bold agenda that we can take to the American people.”

It’s interesting that Ryan would feel the need to do this, and is potentially a signal that the deal was in trouble. His endorsement helps the deal and hurts his ability to wipe the slate clean at the same time.

That deal, keep in mind, is an inherent lie – it includes cuts that will never happen, along the lines of an NFL contract with 50 million socked away in an unguaranteed final year for appearances.

“Nearly half of those offsets (including new revenues) are not realized until 2025—the last year of the budget window. Between this Boehner-Obama deal and the Ryan-Murray spending agreement of 2013 (the last time Congress revisited the discretionary spending caps), Congress has increased spending by a total of 143 billion dollars before 2021 (the period covered by the Budget Control Act) paid for with 98 billion in savings not realized until after 2021.”

Even worse, there’s no reason this deal had to happen. The Boehner-Obama deal is a disaster for Republicans. It’s a classic spend more now and promise to spend less in the future deal with virtually nothing good in it. No shutdown was imminent, nor was any real default, and 61 percent of Americans were opposed to a debt limit hike or wanted it tied to spending cuts. So of course the White House wants to slam it through. Of course, John Boehner promised that there would be no more backroom deals, and that you’d get at least three days of a public bill before voting – a shame that he would literally violate his Pledge to America on the way out the door.

As Kevin Williamson writes today:

“Sequestration is the reason why in recent years we’ve reduced federal spending substantially in GDP terms, from about 25 percent to about 20 percent. It is the main reason that we have reduced the federal deficit in GDP terms. Democrat-supporting welfare entrepreneurs hated it, and Republican-supporting military contractors hated it. Ordinary Americans did not have much in the way of strong views on the matter, which often is the case when a policy actually does what it is supposed to. Effective government rarely is dramatic government. The deal puts us on track to dramatically reverse recent real gains on federal spending. If the deal passes as is, which seems likely, and if Paul Ryan does become speaker, his first order of business is going to have to be whipping Republicans into patching up this self-inflicted wound.”

It was a useful talking point to say that the Budget Caps were John Boehner’s legacy, even though we all know he was extremely reluctant to put them forward. But busting the caps to this degree with no real pay-fors, when you’re not up against a government shutdown or a default, is now his legacy and the legacy of his tenure: a period of total surrender by Republican leadership on fiscal issues. Voting for this deal says that you are in favor of bigger government and more spending. There is no getting around that.

For Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John Cornyn to act like they are innocent bystanders to this – that John Boehner is so powerful that he can do whatever he wants – but that is not going to fly. It’s not enough to say you hate the process or that you hate the deal – if you’re confident you can lead and that a Speaker Paul Ryan can negotiate a better deal, just do what Mick Mulvaney has asked to do: kick the can on the debt limit for three months and do your own deal with Obama that looks nothing like this total surrender on spending.

The Republican Party in Congress owns this deal, and the suddenness of it will be used by the presidential field to criticize everyone in Washington – Boehner, Ryan, McConnell and on down. Rand Paul has already declared his intention to filibuster it. Everyone will be asked about it tonight, presumably, and it will be interesting if anyone at all defends it. It is a black mark on their records and eliminates the one area where Congress has been able to hold Obama back from achieving his sweeping agenda.