Saturday, April 9, 2011

Crafty GOP Strategy Gets Them Most of What They Want

In the late hours of the night on Friday night, congressional leaders and the President reached an agreement on the discretionary budget for the remainder of Fiscal 2011.

On the surface, it looks like a compromise...the GOP had sought $61B of cuts and had sought to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. They got $38.5B in cuts and had to live with Planned Parenthood continuing to be funded by the federal government, albeit with the opportunity to symbolically vote against the funding. So they got 63% of their cuts but didn't get their key social policy change. Feels like a compromise that splits the difference, doesn't it?

But look closer. The continuing resolutions passed had already cut over $10B in funding. The temporary 6 day resolution that was passed to allow the government to keep functioning and provide time for the House and Senate to vote on the compromise cut another $2B. That's $50.5B in total cuts, 83% of what the GOP had sought.

And the Planned Parenthood funding? A red herring. The total annual funding to Planned Parenthood from the federal government totals a mere $75 million, or 0.02% of annual federal spending. And Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from providing abortion services with the funding. In fact, the funding provides cervical cancer screening and contraception, perhaps the latter is opposed by the very far right fringe of the GOP, but both are things that 99% of rational people would support. But by making it a central issue, Boehner and company were able to get the Dems to cave on the more important issues at stake.

So, the GOP, with its majority in one House of Congress, was able to get 83% of what it wanted. Nicely done. Now, can we have a debate about the 7/8ths of the federal budget not covered by domestic discretionary spending?

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