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Federal Budget Fight, the Beltway Don Quixote Lives

Shut down spin. Maybe its because I’ve lived in the area since 1992, seen up close how the sausage is made, and have become immune to political messaging. Or it just may be that this budget deal is not deal at all.

The big man at the White House won the spin wars. Why would you say that Jason, my friends ask, you’re a Republican? Spin away, live to fight another battle, my beltway pals chime in.  Although the histrionics of the past week were mainly the Democratic Party’s doing, Obama is still being portrayed as the great conciliator, a role that he will burnish for the next two years because he needs re-election more than he needs a budget agreement.

I’ve heard conservative elite hedging before, but it rang loud this past week. Folks in this town that should know better, lost the will to fight starting late Thursday. The chattering and lobbying class, many of which make a living off what happens in this town, including myself, started to lay out a parade of political horribles if a shut down took place. Obama would have a political win. Republicans would be viewed as obstructionists. And, like the old Energizer battery adds, it droned on and on.

We may just control one-half of one-third of the federal government, but that is point. Those eighty-seven new Republicans in the House came with a new view and message. Why not start to make the tough cuts now? Is it supposed to get any easier when deliberations commence on the 2012 budget process or raising the debt limit? By the way, there have been numerous influential conservatives pushing a debt limit increase since before the mid-terms, so you can guess where this particular battle is headed.

Viewed over the long-term, $38.5 billion in cuts without substantive policy riders is paltry budget dust. Republicans had the Democrats agree to something that the Democrats knew they would have no choice but to accept. It’s a quixotic win. I think people in this town still believe that Americans have no clue what is going on or how seriously the financial crisis has impacted the nation. They are seriously mistaken. No amount of spin is going work this go around.

Americans love a good and fair fight, not namby pamby enlightened posturing. Prolonging the inevitable conflict with the Democrats and the left about what we want to the future of our country to look like was a bad idea. If there is a market for services provided by entities such as NPR, the Department of Education, HHS, Planned Parenthood, or Cowboy Poetry, then the private sector should fund it, not the federal government. It has nothing at all to do with abortion or Rick Steves travel shows, but about shrinking the size of the federal government.

Let’s stop tilting at windmills.

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