Should the Target Number Have Been $200 Billion?
If reports of the-top line number of $33 billion in the non-agreement over the CR are correct, the Tea Party has already achieved a victory in this sense–by insisting on doubling Paul Ryan’s original number for cuts coming out of the House, it succeeded in establishing Ryan’s original number as a floor, not a ceiling. This is quite an accomplishment for Jim Jordan and the gang. I worried going higher would create too many targets of opportunity for Democrats to attack supposedly heartless cuts, but those attacks either haven’t been forthcoming or have fallen on deaf ears among the public. This is an extraordinary and very welcome development. Given that the White House and Democrats have been steadily giving ground, maybe Republicans can get even more of what they want on cuts and riders. But it’d be foolish in my view to push it all the way into a shutdown that would be a high-risk and low-reward proposition, since the future of the country doesn’t depend on how many billions are shaved in discretionary spending this year or policy riders of six-month duration. Much more consequential is the debate over the debt limit, which gives Republicans the leverage to force serious spending restraint, and over the Ryan budget, which will attempt to set the predicate for putting the country on a fundamentally different fiscal path.