It appears that Speaker of the House John Boehner and the White House will have settled on a budget deal some time later tonight, that would cut $38 billion from this fiscal year budget, and would largely meet the goals set out by Republicans at the start of this term. It is still uncertain if the bill will pass, or will be delayed temporarily for the next few days, but the outline for a compromise is now in the works.
The hold through out the day focused on Title X spending: the monies that go to health centers such as Planned Parenthood. That accounts for approximately $300 million dollars. Democrats have been demagoguing the issue left and right. Female Democrat Senators came out, basically stating that Republicans wanted to take basic medical care away from all women. The new head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, accused Republicans of trying to kill women. So much for tone of the debate, huh Mr. Obama?
The key sign all day that progress was being made was the almost incredible silence from the Republican caucus on the issue. Normally, Republicans would be out in force, defending their Right-to-Life positions. That was not the case today. Instead, the leadership kept their eye on the ball…namely, fiscal constraint.
Targeting Planned Parenthood appears to have been important, but not vital, to passage of the budget agreement. The media and Democrats, in an uproar over the cuts, focused on the social issues, and in the end defeated themselves.
Boehner has played this as well as could be expected. It now appears, as some sources are saying, that he kept the Title X issues on the table specifically to marginalize the Democrat negotiators to basically arguing on a single item alone: the Planned Parenthood funding. Republicans always had their stated goal in mind, for once, did not distract themselves from it. Abortion is a fight for another day.
For Republicans, it is time to move on. They achieved their short term goals, in large part. We certainly didn’t get everything, but now is not the time to quibble. When you win 95% of the battle, it is time to claim victory and be the adult. More importantly, the battle has been won but the war is still to be fought: the 2012 Budget and the debt ceiling remain. The cuts we did not achieve in this go around should be targeted for that time.
More specifically, it would be foolish for Republicans to lose the goodwill they have currently to target a few billion dollars, when trillions of dollars of cuts stand in the balance. If Republicans waste political capital now, it is questionable whether they could build public support among a mix of conservatives and independents for the cuts we all know must come before passing an increase in the debt ceiling.
It is time to claim victory, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done…and move on to the next battleground.