If true, this is very bad news:
A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.
Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs – Pell grants for poor college students, health research and “Race to the Top” aid for public schools, among others – from Republican knives.
And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous cuts to the Agriculture Department’s food inspection program.
The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until overnight as it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially “score” as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.
I agree with Reno_Dave who has a post up on The Corner (it’s a response to a blog by Rich Lowry) urging us not to accept unquestioningly this report from the Associated Press. But I do have a sinking feeling. What would you do if you were an elected official? Bold Option: Vote against the deal and risk a government shutdown? Chicken Option: Hold your nose and vote yes and be more vigilante on the 2012 budget?
Here from John Podhoretz is why I would tend to go with the Chicken Option:
Already there are indications that a great many House members are going to vote against the deal. What we don’t know, or can’t know, is whether grass-roots velocity has sped up to such a degree over the past several years that we could be looking at a major meltdown of support when the votes are cast, as Republican members honestly balk at the clear deceit of the negotiators in making non-existent cuts in federal spending-and as they fear the wrath of the voters (particularly tea partiers). Meanwhile, Leftist Democrats who feel betrayed by Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might also decide to teach them a lesson by withholding support.
And then, all of a sudden, there will be a shutdown. And no plan to end it. And make no mistake-the public will blame the GOP.