Whether the government shuts down or not, here’s the big takeaway from all of this: We are currently debating how much to cut rather than debating whether or not to cut. This is an enormous victory for conservatives. I credit the timing of the Ryan budget rollout with a lot of this, this new air of seriousness being focused on the need to cut, to cut now, and to cut hard. The policy implications of the compromise in whatever form it comes aren’t the major story. (Sadly, our national deficit is at a place where “a billion or two” here and there really is small potatoes.)
What is far more interesting is what happens next, how this impacts the debt-ceiling debate and the FY 2012 budget. I think that the Democrats are dramatically overplaying their hand on the Planned Parenthood issue because they know that if the debate is over spending and the economy, they lose. They’re also seeing the kind of backbone that John Boehner is ready to bring to negotiations. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re making so much noise now in order to preemptively shore up good will with their own base, seeing that even bigger cuts will have to be accepted down the road.
Kristen Soltis is director of policy research at The Winston Group.