One Last Word About Boehner's Budget Deal of Last Week...

-By Warner Todd Huston

I know, I know, I know… many conservatives are mad at the whole thing. It was too small, it was too timid, Boehner caved on Planned Parenthood, etc., etc., etc. But, can I just point out one other thing in Boehner’s favor, just for a little perspective?

The goal of party politics is to get as many of your guys to vote for your policies as possible, of course. But a secondary goal is to split off as many of the other party as possible and inducing them to vote with you. Boehner was successful in doing that with the vote on HR 1473. The Speaker successfully got 81 Democrats to vote in favor of the budget deal and in an extremely contentious and partisan debate, at that. In contrast he only lost 59 votes from his own side and those votes were not lost over the essence of the bill but over only particulars.

None of the 59 Republicans that voted against the bill voted against it because they were against the main issue of cutting spending. They only voted against it because it didn’t go far enough.

On the GOP side the main question sees consensus. All Republicans agree with the central premise that we need to cut spending.

On the other hand, the Democrats are clearly split the issue. More than one third, heck nearly half, of Democrats came to support the bill with all those tax cuts. Granted these Democrats had the cover of Obama’s last second participation in the deal, but still this vote on the Democrat side shows that with 108 against and 81 for the GOP sponsored bill, the Democrats are rife with division.

It shows that some Democrats fully understand that the voters are fully behind spending cuts, too.

Now, what happened to the Democrat division when voting for the Ryan plan? That was purely a political calculation. The Democrats were able to keep their caucus in line for a few reasons. One, they knew that the thing would pass with or without them. With the ire of the far left over HR 1473 and with the president’s obdurate, campaign-style budget speech Democrats chose that vote to shore up the base. Plus, the so-called moderate Democrats can point to their vote on HR 1473 to “prove” they are fiscally responsible with the further claim that the Ryan plan “goes too far.”

It was sort of a natural to see not one Democrat vote for the Ryan plan given the climate in Washington today and after the vote on Boehner’s earlier budget deal. Their base is so enraged that the Democrats were almost forced to vote a block “no” on Ryan’s plan.

Anyway, what I am saying here is that Boehner also deserves a bit of credit for having split off so many Democrats on HR 1473 and for recognizing that his own caucus is fully behind the policy of spending cuts.

I cannot say he is a “success” on spending cuts… yet. I can say that he is on the right track. What he does with the next budget debate will tell where he really stands.

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