I should have been more all over the budget deal reached between Paul Ryan and What’s-Her-Name-From-Way-Over-There.

I’ve been trying to understand both the details and the big picture. One thing I have noticed is that the mainstream media is loving it, REPUBLICAN SCHOOLYARD FIGHT! (Today’s ALL CAPS courtesy of Jim Geraghty.)

From Rick Klein at ABC News, Boehner’s Big Blast (ALL CAPS added):

It will be remembered for a message: This was the time that REPUBLICAN LEADERS SAID TO THEIR FRIENDS, CUT IT OUT.

“This is ridiculous,” House Speaker John Boehner declared of the opposition brought forward by an array of his erstwhile allies – Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the Koch brothers, and -by implication- senators including Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Tom Coburn, and even Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.

The agreement set to pass the House today is significant but ultimately minuscule. It buys two years’ of budget peace, but in a familiar fashion: BY AVOIDING THE TOUGH STUFF (taxes, entitlements…).

And yet … this marks A MOMENT THE REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT HAS BEEN LONGING FOR. (Serious question: What would the year have been like if Boehner delivered a similar message in, say, January, right after the GOP debacle of 2012?)

By calling out the outside groups that have outsized influence, Boehner’s message is that he’s planning on governing, not playing games. That he’s even able to deliver such a message at this stage of his speakership is remarkable in itself.

Boehner knows his conference, and he knows that he’ll get maybe 150 of his Republican colleagues to vote for the budget deal Rep. Paul Ryan cut with Sen. Patty Murray. Toss in a possibly equal number of Democrats, and BIPARTISANSHIP IS BREAKING OUT to close out the year.

There’s a report that Ryan Deal Limits Senate GOP’s Power to Block Tax Increases, but I have not assessed independently whether that is the case.  Would not surprise me.

There’s also griping about the promise not to vote on a bill for 72 hours not being kept.

I just don’t know what to make of it, other than the big picture that Republicans gave up on any hope of changing the trajectory of government for at least the next two years.  Gave up the fight.  Took a quick fix. 

Those are two lost years we cannot afford.

The budget deal, by postponing the hard things for two more years, creates the false sense of normalcy Obama and Democrats need for 2014. 

The nation is burning down with debt, and we’re hanging Christmas decorations on the front porch.

Update: Contrast Quin Hillyer, Ryan’s Rope:

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan has now accomplished the astonishing task of pushing House Republicans substantially to the left of the Senate GOP. His budget deal, announced Tuesday night, was achieved by shutting conservative Senate Republicans out of negotiations, by resorting to the old trick of spending now while claiming savings later, by ignoring a symbolically important budgetary red line, and by treating as Democratic “concessions” things to which even Democratic budgeteers already had agreed.

The chess equivalent of Ryan’s deal would be trading a castle for a mere pawn. No wonder conservatives are feeling rooked….

And with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell already having signaled a determination to stand firm on sequester-level domestic spending, this slap in the face of Senate Republicans amounted to a particularly low blow against conservatives. The one time the Senate GOP seemed to have some backbone, Ryan glued its underside to the bench.

With Meghan McArdle, Republicans Get The Better End Of The Budget Deal (via Instapundit):

But if they do nothing at all, many reason, they get all the sequestration cuts. Why trade them away?

To avoid another showdown. Though I, too, would like government to shrink, I think this is the right policy trade-off; shutdowns are making it harder and harder to talk about rational budget policy in this town. And tactically, I think this is a clear win for the Republican Party. The last thing they need right now is to take the focus off the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and revive Obama’s flagging poll numbers with an ill-timed budget battle. Their best shot at a budget they really like is, after all, to retake the Senate in 2014.

One hopes that Congressional Republicans understand that, too. You’ll see folks like McConnell vote against it, but that’s a free vote for them; McConnell’s party doesn’t control his chamber. In the House, however, Ryan and John Boehner ought to be able to coax the caucus along to a majority “yes” vote — at least if the caucus is rationally attuned to the best interests of their party. Of course, some days that looks like a pretty big “if.”

We never do well when we tread water or do the backstroke. I’m for not letting up the pressure.


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