Monday, April 11, 2011

The FY 2011 Deal

There were three pieces to the fight over continued FY 2011 spending: (1) the total amount spent; (2) where to spend it; and (3) various policy riders.

On the total amount, which meant the amount of spending cuts, the Republicans basically won something of a victory, with liberals chagrined that the final spending number wound up lower than what the House leadership floated in their first place -- although as I've argued before, it's the total the House voted for in H.R. 1 that really "counts" as the GOP's opening position. So I'd call this portion of it a slight win for the GOP. One thing I'd say: the difference in the macroeconomic effects of $10B or less in federal spending can't possibly be that big a deal (or, for that matter, the budgetary effect of $10B or less in appropriations), so once Republicans won the election and the basic idea of policy direction was set, what we're really talking about here is the effect on specific programs.

On where to spend it...I haven't seen enough details yet to really know who won on this. Obviously some programs that Democrats like were hit; the question is whether the cuts were balanced, or if they remained (as in the H.R. 1 version) targeted almost exclusively at those programs.

On the policy riders, it appears that the Democrats won a significant victory. Republicans agreed to drop most of the provisions that Democrats objected too, including defunding ACA, restricting the ability of EPA to regulate carbon emissions, and attacking Planned Parenthood (although again, we don't know much about specific riders that are still included).

On the whole, as I said in my post last week, my perspective on this is pretty close to what John Sides and Nate Silver emphasized over the weekend: the deal here was mostly driven by the 2010 election results, not by specific bargaining wins and losses. Democrats, in particular, seem to be committed to the idea that their side bargains poorly, but I'm really not seeing that in the results -- and I think the "Obama lost" story requires believing that Republicans weren't really serious about ACA and EPA, which just isn't true. That's not to say that bargaining skills had no effect at all on the outcome, but it sure looks to me that the effect was relatively small as far as the big picture is concerned.

Where bargaining really did make a significant difference probably was on the composition, not the size, of the spending cuts, and we still only have sketchy information about that.


  1. Just confirming why PB has become my mainstay political blog. The two most annoying things about the liberal blogosphere in general are rage fests (like calling Scott Walker's obnoxiousness in WI a 'coup') and sob sessions. Apart from an occasional Palin pander, Plain Blog is mercifully free of both.

  2. A comment on the "Obama lost" narrative, that idea. It is very hard to tell in reality if someone lost, what actually happened, but the Dems and Pres Obama are just so bad and playing the PR game, and selling their side of the argument.

    Imagine if you had a pro baseball team that did pretty well. Not the best team but certainly better than average. Game after game, no matter if they won or not, the announcers acted like they lost, the team itself talked like it had lost, even when they won. My guess is that people would grow to have a negative feeling towards this team, even though they were doing OK.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?