When the government shutdown was averted with just hours to spare, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. A continuing resolution was agreed on with the understanding that a deal had been reached that would be voted through this week.
But is that deal still going to hold up? Or are we looking at a shutdown just a week later than before?
The more that details have been emerging about what both parties really did agree to, the less anyone seems happy about the final arrangements. Republicans, who were advocating for even bigger cuts than what Speaker of the House John Boehner managed to obtain, are becoming more frustrated as they learn that some of what they thought would be cuts are just accounting tricks. And Democrats who have been saying from the start that they need to see the final version to decide on their vote have been eerily quiet.
Now, the National Review has come out opposed to the budget, accusing the Speaker of “politics as usual.”
There’s realism and then there’s cynicism. This deal — oversold and dependent on classic Washington budget trickery — comes too close to the latter. John Boehner has repeatedly said he’s going to reject “business as usual,” but that’s what he’s offered his caucus. It’s one thing for Tea Party Republicans to vote for a cut that falls short of what they’d get if the controlled all of Washington; it’s another thing for them, after making so much of bringing transparency and honesty to the Beltway, to vote for a deal sold partly on false pretenses.
As they push a bargain that is still not fully understood, Boehner and the leadership have put their members in an awful fix with another deadline to keep the government open fast approaching. We’d vote “no,” even if we understand the impulse to move on to more important matters and to avoid a leap into the dark that might include a politically damaging shutdown. At the very least, freshmen and other conservatives should be frank about the deal’s shortcomings, refusing to exaggerate its merits as their leadership often has. The episode is strike one against the speakership of John Boehner.
If Boehner’s leadership is already being questioned, can he keep enough of his own caucus behind him to push through the deal? Or is it about to crumble apart, and are the forces who have been pushing for a shutdown all along about to get what they wanted?