I am very, very glad that those federal employees living paycheck-to-paycheck aren’t going to be scrambling (next week) to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I’m glad that Paul Krugman has been cheated of a(nother) chance to point out that the Austrians are not just idiots but malign idiots, when the nascent ‘recovery’ collapsed. (I believe Professor Krugman is just as happy to give this one up, which is another difference between decent people and believers in the Straussian economic cult.) I’m… well, it’s nice that President Obama can look on the bright side:
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the deal just before 11 p.m. The agreement came together in a few frantic hours at the near-deserted Capitol, with a midnight deadline looming…
Shortly after, President Obama read a statement from the White House, pointing out that the Washington Monument, seen lit up over his shoulder, would be open as usual on Saturday.
“Today, Americans of different beliefs came together,” Obama said. He said the cuts would be painful but necessary to maintain the country’s fiscal health. “We protected the investments we need to win the future.”
To keep the government running through Friday, lawmakers approved a short-term spending measure overnight — the Senate at 12:20 a.m. and the House at 12:40 a.m. — and said the final agreement should be approved next week.
Good use of the campaign meme, Mr. President. The 2012 election is already in play, after all.
Apart from those not inconsiderable gains, I’m afraid it looks to me like Dave Weigel at Slate may be right about “The No-Shutdown Wrap: Boehner Wins, Austerity Wins, and the Social Conservatives Go Home With A ‘Participant’ Trophy“:
Am I about to engage in that hideous Washington parlor game of declaring “winners and losers,” as if billions of dollars that would affect real lives were just Monopoly papers being moved across a board? I hope not. What I mean is that most economists agree – sorry, Austrians, you’re still outnumbered – that when a country is pulling out of a recession, it’s not a good idea to slash spending. It didn’t work in 1937, it’s not working too well in the UK. It was a few short weeks ago when Mark Zandi was suggesting that $61 billion of cuts could cost 700,000 jobs by 2012, and Ben Bernanke suggested they could knock a little bit off of our GDP.
And yet. For the second time in five months, the White House has faced a political crisis, looked at an opposition that completely disagreed with liberal economics, and blinked. Five months ago, automatic tax increases were stopped, and the GOP got a validation of supply-side economics. Tonight, in a battle over a much smaller amount of money, the Democrats signed on to austerity economics. They didn’t have much of a choice, but they didn’t challenge the premise, either. We’re a long way from the “Sputnik moment.”…
So there will be things social conservatives like in this continuing resolution, but some of what they wanted was bargained away. That benefited Democrats, but it benefited economic conservatives even more. On the floor of the House yesterday, Rep. Steny Hoyer tried to score points on Republicans by paraphrasing Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a possible 2012 presidential candidate who’s been saying that there should be a “social truce” until the economy and the debt are righted. The implication of what Hoyer said is that Democrats, too, want to tackle the debt, and think the era of stimulus spending is over.
Let’s go back to the raw politics. Can we say that Republicans got the better of the no-shutdown deal? Yes, because if there had been a shutdown, Republicans would have been blamed for it. The record was all cued up. Democrats spent months predicting that Boehner would have trouble controlling his new Tea Party members. They spent this week saying he had to put the Tea Party “horse back in the barn,” as Dick Durbin said. Well, there’s a deal – the implication is that he put the horse back in the barn. If the Republicans would have been blamed for a shutdown, it follows that they get credit for a shutdown being avoided.
You are all more than welcome (as if you needed my permission) to explain to me why this deal is better than I have yet been able to perceive.