Op-Ed: Analyzing The Shutdown Showdown: Winners & Losers

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The budget for Fiscal Year 2011 will finally pass Congress. After a “historic deal” between the Republicans and Democrats, it is expected that Congress will pass the FY 2011 Budget to fund the government for the remainder of the year. This is truly a breakthrough. Six months into the fiscal year and we finally have a budget deal. This is a budget that the Democrats have pandered on for more than a half a year before finally agreeing to a resolution. This budget was supposed to pass back in September when the Democrats still had full control in Capitol Hill. The Democratic lawmakers pandered, punted and pointed fingers while passing a series of seven continuing resolutions until they finally settled to instate some spending cuts. They had no guts to pass another unbalanced budget with a deficit of 1.65 trillion dollars alone. They didn’t have the backbone to add more to the everlasting debt on record without Republican votes. They waited and lingered as the FY 2012 came into the horizon and a shutdown was about to occur.

The shutdown was averted in the 11th hour. A deal secured a full annual budget to be passed along with 38.5 billion dollars in cuts from the 2010 budget (which had an estimated $1.171 trillion deficit). It wasn’t anything remarkable, as it won’t do anything significant to lower the national debt; yet, it was symbolic. It set the tone in Washington for the battles that are looming which include the FY 2012 budget and the vote on raising the debt level. As in every symbolic situation, this symbolic deal and shutdown showdown generated winners and losers. We will analyze who emerged victorious, and who lost the battle and ultimately might lose the war.

Winners:

House Speaker John Boehner: If John Boehner had a good day since he took the gavel from Nancy Pelosi, it was this past Friday. Ever since he became Speaker of the House, he faced a weary media who portrayed him as an emotionally disturbed person and one that cannot be relied on to lead the chamber. They painted him as an ineffective leader who won’t be able to unite his caucus behind his agenda and whose power will fade under the messianic leadership of President Obama. The Tea Partiers were also skeptical of his genuineness and endeavor to cut spending and support their cause.

He proved them wrong. John Boehner came out the champion of the entire fiasco. He led the fight until he emerged triumphant. He was the sheep in the room with 2-1 against his favor; yet, he knew when to threaten and at what time to put down the arms, and did so effectively. He didn’t flinch when Obama emptied his arsenal and threatened a veto, and stayed cool under pressure. He was the first one to notify the country about the deal he brokered and thereby fended off the Democrats’ rhetoric that he will have to cave into demands from the Tea Party and endorse a shutdown. He united his assembly behind his agenda and got even beyond his own expectations. He restored trust in those that were skeptical, and showed that he was willing to put up a fight and tarnish his image to protect the future of the country.

United States of America: The citizens of the United States would have been the biggest losers had a shutdown taken place. It would’ve affected their economy, their governmental services and their country. In 1995, the government shutdown cost the taxpayers over $1.25 billion. A shutdown would delay tax returns for millions, shut down national parks and recreation and essentially put the nation on hold. They were out to lose on the deal and they ultimately won.

Yet, they won even a bigger deal. They literally witnessed the salvage of the republic. A shutdown would be terrible but to continue on the same old path would be even worse. Spending money we don’t have while empowering China with our debt is far worse. Economists are already threatening a double-dip as they witness threats of inflation and rising interest rates. According to the CBO, the U.S. budget will crash by the year 2037. The unsustainable and outrageous spending abruptly had to stop just to keep this country intact. It wasn’t the strong military or social programs that made us the world’s superpower; it was the capitalism and free markets with a sustainable fiscal policy that made us the greatest country on earth. We ought to preserve that, and this deal will set the tone to do just that.

Tea Party: The group that was painted radical by the media is definitely one of the victors. The Democratic leadership in Congress wanted to demonize and place the blame for a shutdown on this group. They stood above the Reid and Schumer rhetoric and got what they wanted. They protested and congregated to stop those extreme expenditures and set the tone to put the country back on the right track. Despite liberal attempts to paint the Tea Party as extreme and unwilling to come to an agreement, they were perceived serious and willing because of this deal. They didn’t want a shutdown; they merely wanted the republic’s long-term existence.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: Rep. Paul Ryan wasn’t instrumental in getting this deal done, but he set the tone. It was his stern warnings on cable TV and his FY 2012 Budget that awakened the nation and got the Democrats to get serious. They realized that it will be tough to challenge this one man think-tank and policy wonk, and knew that they had to cave in. This deal also empowered Ryan and gave him the momentum to lead the bigger fights in the upcoming months. His “extreme” Budget will be the alternative to nothing as the Democrats have shown that they cannot lead. While it is unlikely to pass, it will further set the tone for future fiscal battles.

NPR/PBS: The “non-profit” public broadcasting companies also emerged as winners. Their government funding was supposed to be cut off under the GOP proposal was saved in the last-minute deal. Furthermore, unlike Planned Parenthood, they were also spared from a debate on the House floor where they would have to defend their policies and decisions in public hearings. This will enable them to continue their “fair” crusade against the Republicans — unrestricted.

Losers:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Harry Reid is perhaps the biggest loser on the deal. Despite acting as though he is ecstatic for the deal, he is deeply worried. He now must face irate liberals that scold this deal and must calm down the moderates who are up for reelection that will have to defend their record on votes because of the deal. He will have to brace for even bigger fights because of his resolute stance that eventually broke under pressure from the Republicans. He will have to rally his caucus to protect the baby-killing programs and ensure that they don’t defect on Obamacare. He also must gear up firm opposition to more fiscal battles that have gained impetus because of this deal.

He also became the fool of town. He famously declared that he will shut down the government in face of even one penny in cuts for baby-killing projects; yet, the federal government will cease to fund abortions in the District of Columbia, and Planned Parenthood will face scrutiny in Congress. He also had to retract on his promise never to bring up a vote on Obamacare. “I’m certainly not going to bring it up,” he stated. Well, it isn’t that certain anymore except if he wants to commit political suicide.

President Barack Obama: The President had prepared for a shutdown and waited for it to happen so that he will be the winner. He had the ideal strategy that worked for Bill Clinton, and pretended to rise above partisan politics to appear above the frame. He wanted to set himself the stage for re-election by playing adult in a dogfight. Yet, he emerged the biggest loser from all. His image was once again tarnished and he once again perceived the incompetent and disengaged image. He once again demonstrated that he isn’t a deal broker and gets failing marks when it comes to persuasive powers. It seemed as if he was once again on the sidelines as the country braced toward economic growth and prosperity.

Obamacare: The President’s signature legislature lost big-time on the deal. As it’s facing court battles and some of its provisions were repealed, it will face scrutiny once more. Only this time, it will happen in election year with more Republicans in the Senate and Democratic Senators that have previously opposed this measure. Although it is unlikely that it will be overturned, given a definite veto from the President that will follow, it will emerge largely dented and severely damaged. Already hit with the lowest public approval ever, it will dwindle even further to lower ratings as the President will have to defend it before his reelection. Negotiations can lead to the stripping of many of the bill’s provisions if not an entire repeal under a Republican president.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: The most powerful woman in the history of Congress was nowhere to be seen last week. She had no influence on a budget that she was supposed to preside over. She was non-grata as negotiations were taking place in Washington. Her stewardship led to nothing as she was left out of the talks and gave speeches around the nation instead. Her ego was broken as Washington worked without her power wielding. She must’ve felt terrible on her worst day since she handed over the gravel to John Boehner.

Senator Jim Demint: The de facto leader of the Tea Party in the Senate also lost on the deal. He was initially the one that led the struggle against Washington’s immoral behavior, but was a non-player when his comrades emerged victorious.  He couldn’t broker the deal and wasn’t able to draw his own plan to remain the effectual leader for their causes in Congress.

Dave Hirsch is a political analyst and columnist. He can be reached at[email protected]

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Actually Reid was a winner because he suceeded in re-framing the debate (correctly) as an attempt by the Republicans to shut down the government in order to de-fund Planned Parenthood. The Republicans caved.

  2. Given that the budget deficit is running in the area of 1000 to 2000 billion (or 1-2 trillion, if you prefer), reducing it by under 50 billion is a joke, and we are the butt of the joke.

    If you were earning $100K a year, and your household expenses were running $200K a year, how significant would it be to reduce your household expenditures to $195K.

    The politicians are winners for the time being, since they finally emerged as not being total morons. But if they manage to cause a real depression and/or hyperinflation, ALL the politicians will be losers, and they will be replaced by people who are now outside the system, and if remember what happened after the German economy was destroyed by its “political class” – it isn’t something to look forward to.