I still think that based on what was possible — and on how a shutdown would have likely played out — Boehner probably got the best top line he could have on the C.R. deal. The composition of the cuts is, to say the least, suboptimal, but all this metric-shifting going on is out of place. I’m with the estimable Mr. Holtz-Eakin on this. The Republicans didn’t invent the differences between mandatory and discretionary spending, or between spending authority and outlays. Those distinctions apply to the budget baseline, and to the president’s proposed budget as well. It’s apples to apples. Cuts are cuts.
So I respectfully dissent from our editorial. The C.R. deal is not “strike one” for Boehner’s speakership. This was spring training. This was Boehner in the cages under the clubhouse. This was Boehner taking hacks in the on-deck circle. Pick whatever metaphor you like, the fact is that this isn’t the Big Show. I’m perfectly willing to be told “told ya so” if and when the Republicans fold on the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget (for the record, I think you play chicken as long as you can on the debt ceiling, and you absolutely shut the government down over the 2012 budget). But those are the fights that really matter. So this deal is worth supporting, and then forgetting.