The great budget fight of 2011 is just about over, with lawmakers finally coming to an agreement late last night, and a bill set to set to be sent to President Obama before the end of next week. Though the agreement is barely 12 hours old, plenty of voices have started to weigh in. The initial take: Washington is still screwed up, the Republicans did well for themselves, but at least we have a budget now. Here's some of what people are saying:
Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus writes that in the end, the fight over the budget was a fight for power, something that was going to have to happen sooner or later: "But that doesn't mean this battle was meaningless or unnecessary. This struggle wasn't about money; it was about political power."
The Washington Post's Dan Balz felt that the budget fight just proved that Washington is broken, and that there is still a lot to be done. "The deal announced less than 90 minutes before the deadline may produce a sense of relief that the government will remain open," he wrote. "But given the tortured negotiations and the claims and counterclaims that were traded all day, the public is likely to find fault with both political parties."
Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias wrote that while compromise is a good thing from time to time and incremental progress is better than no progress, the budget represents no progress at all:
I hope people remember this year next time large Democratic majorities produce an inadequate stimulus bill, a not-good-enough health reform bill, a somewhat weak financial regulation bill, and fail to deliver on their promises for immigration and the environment. It’s easy in a time like that to get cynical and dismissive about the whole thing. But there’s actually a huge difference between moving forward at a slower-than-ideal pace and scrambling to reduce the pace at which you move backwards. Now we’re moving backwards.
The Nation's John Nichols writes that Democrats sold out, allowing cuts to the types of programs they used to do all they could to protect:
A Senate Appropriations Committee review says that most of the $2 billion in cuts contained in the one-week bill come from a $1.5 billion slashing of the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. More cuts are achieved by hacking $220 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Fund. And research into making air travel safer and more efficient took cuts as well.In other words, precisely the sort of programs that Democrats used to defend were slashed.
USA Today's Chuck Raasch writes that while the Democrats may have lost overall, Obama faired better than most. Although he warned that the minor victory could be short lived:
He could have suffered big political wounds had the government shut down. By avoiding that, he misses deeper criticism that he has not led forcefully enough in this budget debate, and the economy was spared the damage he had feared from a shutdown. But this battle shifted the early 2012 presidential focus to the deficit, which remains at record levels under his presidency. Does he have Bill Clinton's political skills — and will — to work with warring Republicans and Democrats and deliver meaningful deficit reduction and budget reforms?
The New Republic's Jonathan Chait feels that the agreement is a coup for Republicans, who made the most of the power that they have:
I’m not sure I can think of an example of a party that leverage control of one House of Congress into significant policy movement in its direction on a high profile issue. When Democrats took control of the Senate in 2001, there was the sense that they could limit the ambition of President Bush’s domestic agenda, but nobody considered the possibility that they could force Bush to move policy in their direction as a condition for keeping the government open. Even when the Democrats won both Houses of Congress in 2006, they used their leverage merely to veto additional policy changes in Bush’s direction, not to adopt their own policy goals opposed by Bush.