Wednesday began with President Obama praising Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Mitch McConnell for reaching a “compromise” on the budget and the debt ceiling that really isn’t a compromise at all. In fact, it does nothing but kick the can down the road. Here’s what it does:
- Government funded through January 15 at sequestration levels
- Debt limit extended until February 7, subject to vote of Congressional disapproval, which Obama can veto
- A budget conference established to come up with long-term spending plans by December 13
- Income verification for recipients of subsidies under Obamacare’s newly-established exchanges
- Backpay for furloughed workers
So nothing changes at all, it just delays the budget fight until January 15 and the debt limit fight until February 7. I don’t have any idea what the income verification thing means. There’s already income verification in order to qualify for subsidies in the exchanges. I know that because I just sent in my 2012 tax returns for that very purpose and it would not let me select a plan until that’s done. This “compromise” is the status quo, extended about 3 months. That’s it.
Conservative groups immediately announced their opposition to it, including the Club for Growth, Freedom Works and the Heritage Foundation. Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works showed just how delusional he is when he told the Washington Post, “This was a very winnable fight, if the Republicans had been willing to fight.” I’d love to hear him explain how it was winnable, and at what cost. In the end, the vote in the House wasn’t even close, 285-144. Which means that it’s almost a certainty that it could have ended long ago if only Boehner had the guts to bring it to the floor and deny the Tea Party.
I give credit to President Obama for sticking to his guns and not negotiating on this, but I also think that the whole thing might have been avoided if he had shown that same kind of backbone during his first term. The Republicans had good reason to think he’d fold; he’d done it several times before. Now let’s all meet back here in three months, when it happens all over again.