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The Fiscal 2011 Budget: The Country Loses

Ezra Klein on how Obama will be said to have won but will have actually lost the fiscal 2011 budget battle:

Wonkbook: We’re coming up fast on the deadline by which Congress needs to agree on government funding or the Feds has to turn the lights off. The negotiations remain fluid, but here’s what seems pretty clear: The House Republican leadership will win, the Tea Party will be disappointed and the Democrats will lose. But really, it’ll be the Tea Party that won, the House Republican leadership who learned a valuable lesson and the Democrats who lost. Confused? Let me explain.

Back in February, Paul Ryan unveiled what was supposed to be the opening bid from the House Republicans: $32 billion in cuts for the rest of 2011. But the Tea Party demanded more and House leadership quickly caved, doubling their proposed cuts to more than $60 billion.... Now Democrats are offering as a compromise measure $30 billion in total cuts, or exactly what Ryan’s original proposal had called for. Pretty neat, huh?

And that’s not the Democrats’ final offer, either. Odds are good that the eventual compromise will see cuts somewhere between the $30 billion Republican leadership called for and the almost $70 billion the conservative wing of the House GOP demanded. “That’s not much of a compromise if we end up with what the House Republican leadership wanted in the first place,” observe Michael Ettlinger and Michael Linden. And they’re right. But the irony is that it’s entirely possible the press will report that Democrats “won” the negotiations, as Republican leadership is likely to have to lose a lot of conservative votes in the House to get any compromise, no matter how radical, through the chamber. That will make them look bad, and in the weird logic of Washington, make the Democrats look good.

But if you just keep your eye on the policy, Republicans are moving towards a win far beyond anything the House leadership had initially imagined...

What Ezra does not mention is that the country loses--what we need right now is bigger government deficits and policy changes that reduce government deficits after 2020. What we are getting is policy changes that increase government deficits after 2020 and reduce government deficits now.

Can't anybody here play this game?

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