Poll: Who was the budget battle’s biggest loser?

posted at 3:00 pm on April 9, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

I suspect that this will be a topic that will be endlessly debated, or at least until the budget debates for FY2012 and entitlement reform begin in earnest.  Rather than decide who the biggest winner is, it’s probably easier to focus on who lost more in this debate and its eventual settlement.  Before I offer the poll, I’ll walk through some of the options and the arguments for and against each:

  • John Boehner — Plenty of people have already expressed anger over his dealmaking, and it remains to be seen whether his caucus will reward or punish him for the budget compromise.  As I’ve argued here and here today, Boehner got quite a bit more than seemed possible at the start of the year, considering that the GOP only controlled one chamber of Congress.  He also forced Harry Reid and Barack Obama to re-open the DC school voucher program, a small but important pushback on educational reform.  He didn’t get the $100 billion in cuts he promised or the $61 billion the House passed, but the House isn’t going to get everything it wants in the 112th Session of Congress, either.  He got a budget passed on his terms — cuts — which is more than can be said for …
  • Nancy Pelosi — The former Speaker wasn’t even around for the budget compromise.  She was in Boston, talking about how great she was as Speaker when, er, her party wouldn’t pass a budget despite having a 77-seat majority and full control of Washington.  In the House, the minority is largely irrelevant, so Pelosi didn’t have much to lose except her reputation.  Boehner’s ability to close a deal while making her just a voice in the peanut gallery on what was supposed to be her budget did about as much damage to that reputation as possible.  Democrats angry over the cuts only have Pelosi to blame for not producing a budget.
  • The Tea Party — We’ll hear that compromise by Boehner is some sort of rebuke to the Tea Party from the media, a meme that will gain some traction as Tea Party favorites in Boehner’s caucus publicly criticize the deal.  But it’s hard to see how the Tea Party lost at all.  At stake in these negotiations was the remainder of non-security discretionary spending in the FY2011 budget, which amounted to somewhere short of $230 billion (the Tea Party pushed to protect defense and security spending).  On that playing field, Boehner cut almost $40 billion, or over 17% of the available pool left.  He was able to do that because the Tea Party changed the political paradigm in Washington from making slight adjustments to the rate of increase in spending to actual cuts in spending.  That paradigm will continue and strengthen now that Boehner proved that cuts are actually possible — and politically beneficial.
  • Barack Obama — After months of irrelevancy, supposedly deliberate, Obama sailed in at the last minute to cut a deal with Boehner.  That will earn him praise from the usual media suspects, but voters are going to wonder what took him so long.  The budget was due last September, and we have been running on a series of several continuing resolutions.  Why did Obama wait to get involved until more than halfway into the fiscal year?  More to the point, why is he cutting deals with Republicans now when he could have gotten a much better deal from Democrats in 2010?  Only a loser waits until he has no leverage, which brings us to …
  • Harry Reid — As I pointed out yesterday, Reid could have passed a budget months ago.  He may not have been able to act in the absence of a House bill, thanks to Pelosi’s abdication of responsibilities, but the Senate could have passed a response to HR1 earlier this year.  That would have forced a conference committee, where Reid could have exercised his influence to the highest degree to get a deal he wanted.  Instead, Reid punted.  That put Obama in position to do his 11th-hour swoop and take credit for the eventual budget agreement.  Reid made himself irrelevant, as opposed to Pelosi’s operational irrelevancy.  In the end, Reid was a bystander; Boehner entirely bypassed him and forced Obama to negotiate with him as an equal, a result that raises Boehner’s stature at the expense of Obama and especially Reid.  Boehner even strongarmed Reid into giving the Speaker control of the Senate floor with the agreement to hold votes on ObamaCare repeal and Planned Parenthood defunding.

What do you think?  Take the poll:

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OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 7:03 PM

I try to look at the bright side. How can anyone be upset on after the surprise in Wisconsin? And if all of the Tea Party’s expectations weren’t met, they at least made a strong showing and are being consider a serious partner in the process.

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Come on folks, we are improving and I am sure our guys learned a lot during this negotiations. I think the battles going forward are going to be frustrating but at least we are in them.

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Cindy Munford:Inspirational and positive,me likey!:)

Btw,I sent you a message on another thread,
regarding the Election night Justice thread,
AP,called me a her,I’m a guy!!:)

canopfor on April 9, 2011 at 7:33 PM

canopfor on April 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Yes it can!!!!

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 7:34 PM

The densest element in the known Universe has been found – Pelosium
canopfor on April 9, 2011 at 7:10 PM

and if you add Botox to the mix…:-)

jimver on April 9, 2011 at 7:31 PM

jimver:Good lord,botox,talk about instability and

canopfor on April 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Everyone. It wasn’t extreme enough, cuts wise.

RedNewEnglander on April 9, 2011 at 7:43 PM

:Good lord,botox,talk about instability and

canopfor on April 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM

I know, volatile, right :-)

jimver on April 9, 2011 at 7:50 PM

haha, HuffPo admitting that Prosser’s win in Wisconsim might be legit after all :-)…sweeeet :-)…this after Daily Kos and Michael Moore screamed on the top of their lungs the other day: ‘frauuud, plus we didn’t have enough time to un-dig all the deads and re-count blah blah …’


jimver on April 9, 2011 at 7:55 PM

$54 Billion WEEKLY deficit preceding Boehner Deal to Cut $38 Billion YEARLY

Boehner lost big time using the dems to pass his leftist agenda.

Spathi on April 9, 2011 at 8:05 PM

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 7:32 PM

There goes Cindy again, obeying the eighth commandment and finding the best in everything…
As gracious as grandma was.

OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Nobody won, it was a wash. No spending was cut, we will just spend less than what Obama originally wanted and the deficit wasn’t touched.

I suppose Boehner had a personal victory in the sense that he has garnered new respect as a negotiator inside the beltway, but as far as the rest of us are concerned, we haven’t won anything yet. We’ll see what Boehner does with the debt ceiling…

Daemonocracy on April 9, 2011 at 8:19 PM

There goes Cindy again, obeying the eighth commandment and finding the best in everything…
As gracious as grandma was.

OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 8:19 PM

She does offer up a good bowl of sunshine, and it’s not blind optimism either as there is wisdom in her words.

Daemonocracy on April 9, 2011 at 8:21 PM

I wonder if the Dems were blindsighted by the fall elections. Why else would they not have a budget for 2011?

freywg on April 9, 2011 at 8:23 PM

I can’t be too hard on Boehner. True, the cut was about 0.25% of the projected deficit but it set a precedent by being an actual cut rather than am increased that was less than proposed spending

Now Boehner can start working on the FY 2012 budget a department at a time rather when spend our time on a series of omnibus continuing resolutions.

And it serves as one more example of the irrelevancy of President Obama.

Laurence on April 9, 2011 at 8:32 PM

OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Now if I could only become a grandmom!!!!!!!

Daemonocracy on April 9, 2011 at 8:21 PM

You are too nice.

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM

You are a real peach, darlin’
An example to all of us.

OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM

You’ll be really good at grandmomming when the time comes.
Those lucky blessed future children…

OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 8:43 PM

We need a Recall Boehner movement.

Spathi on April 9, 2011 at 8:53 PM

We need a Recall Boehner Spathi/ Ron Paul movement.

Spathi on April 9, 2011 at 8:53 PM


OmahaConservative on April 9, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Harry Reid. But only because Pelosi had already lost all influence long before the budget agreement.

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 9, 2011 at 10:01 PM

“The People” lost.

It is absurd that they think 38 billion in cuts matters when they are going in the whole more than that each WEEK!!!

karenhasfreedom on April 9, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Boehner is doing that. But he has two goals. Remember that. His goal is to get what he can from Obama, but also to make the Dems look foolish and the GOP look better, so that he can keep this fight going in 2012 and 2013 and beyond.

Well one thing is for sure, this fight gave us a lot of soundbites for political ads in 2012. We need to hammer these points to the voters in the purple states:

1) The Dems cared more about funding planned parenthood than they did to make sure the troops fighting overseas got their paychecks.

Visualize this ad: Female narrator talks about how planned parenthood receives $xx dollars from the taxpayers which supposedly goes for female health services. This taxpayer funding subsidizes the cost of running the clinics that perform abortions every 95 seconds in this country. The female narrator states that the democrats were willing to stop the paychecks to the military families to keep these abortion clinics running.

Then switch to a new female on the screen, a young military wife with 2 or 3 small kids, and a picture in picture frame of her husband in a combat zone overseas. Have the military wife tell us in her own words that she is very disappointed that the democrats in Congress were willing to pay for planned parenthood over her husband receiving a paycheck to feed her family while he risks his life overseas for our country.

Then close with: How can anyone honestly say that the democrats have the right spending priorities for our country?

Fade to black

2) Harry Reid talking about funding Cowboy poetry in Nevada with Federal Dollars. Then have a female narrator voiceover say, “Is this what you want your hard earned tax dollars to pay for?” Female narrator then closes with “democrats have the wrong spending priorities for our country in crisis”

Etc. etc. etc.

These ads will write themselves.

I supported “caving” in this round because of the troops weren’t going to be paid. I could not support that no matter what. We had to beat a tactical retreat until we got better ammunition to reload.

I think we got that in this deal. By funding this fiscal year, the troops won’t be in jeopardy and now we can focus on the next 2 big battles ahead: The deficit ceiling and FY2012.

karenhasfreedom on April 9, 2011 at 10:20 PM

Personal opinion, Reid lost the most. Pelosi was marginalized with the 2010 election results, but Reid was nominally still in charge of the Senate, and he was active in the debate. I think Obama got dinged too, but mostly because he didn’t put any skin in the game.

The newsies who think that the Tea Party got dinged in all of this are missing that Boehner was playing a game of Good Cop-Bad Cop, with the Tea Party playing the role of Bad Cop. In that sort of game, it is not the Bad Cop who loses when the Good Cop convinces the target to see his sweet reason…

Voyager on April 9, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Let me try that again: I think Obama got dinged, but not as bad as Reid, mostly because Obama didn’t have any skin in the game.

Not leading did not help him, but I suspect it did not harm him more than if he had lead his party to a glorious defeat.

Voyager on April 9, 2011 at 10:36 PM

Actually, although I voted for Reid, I really believe Chuck Schumer was the biggest loser. Once he made it clear that Planned Parenthood took presidence over the military and 800,000 government employees, you could sense someone saying “Please, Chuck, don’t go there.”

bflat879 on April 9, 2011 at 10:50 PM

The American People

infidel4life on April 9, 2011 at 11:13 PM

The big loser is the people of the United States of America.


herself on April 10, 2011 at 2:29 AM

Gert this everybody…Harry Reid is Obies catspaw. The precedent lost this round big time.

Fighton03 on April 10, 2011 at 3:56 AM

To those who think it wasn’t big enough, remember how a pygmy eats an elephant…’one bite at a time’. The donks have been doing it to us for years, Boehner is starting to return the favor. We got 38.5 Bil back this week, lets do it again NEXT week. Remember the phrase “a billion here a billion there, pretty soon your talking real money” works in BOTH directions!

Fighton03 on April 10, 2011 at 3:59 AM

BTW, my previous only works as long as week keep the heat on these putzes each election.

Fighton03 on April 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM

The biggest loser was Michele Bachmann. She folded. She now has no credibility. Introducing legislation for the military after the fact is CYA. Sorry Michele, you are just a weak willed politician. We need true fighters. We thought that you were one of us. When your moment came you disappointed us all. S.H.A.M.E.

Jayrae on April 10, 2011 at 10:08 AM

We the Tax Payers lost! Instead of $61b in cuts, we got close to half of that and a food fight over abortion. Way to go culture whackos.

MJBrutus on April 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM

I put “Other” because the American people are the biggest losers in this scam. The cuts aren’t enough to make any difference – it’s all a game to all of them. None of them are serious about cutting the budget – it’s all about power to most of them. Barack Obama is the biggest scam and scum to ever be elected president of this country. He does nothing, yet rides in at the last minute to claim credit. I detest him and what he has done to this country with every fiber of my being.

silvernana on April 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM

The American people are the biggest losers. If our ‘representatives’ don’t get our financial house in order then this political generation will be known as the generation that brought America to her knees. I believe that for the moment GOP leadership is doing the best that can be done given the current political landscape but Democrats are not taking this things seriously at all. As Mark Steyn said – the Democrats solution is to deny there is a problem.

If this is the best that can be done then we are doomed.

gwelf on April 10, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2011 at 6:56 PM

I voted “Reid” because Pelosi is no longer in the game. (Which makes her the biggest loser in relation to the lack of a timely budget, but not a loser in this deal.)

However, I think the only reason to look at “Winners and Losers” in any negotiation is for people to reflect on what our side really accomplished. The great job Boehner and his staff did have already been commented on, so I won’t bore those of you who disagree, nor waste my time trying to encourage the unencourageable.

Ed, you did a great job setting this up. Reviewing the “winners and Losers” normally implies that all sides had exclusive goals–that one side could only gain at the expense of the other parties involved. But your set-up clearly portrayed the diverse goals that were in play here. The only improvement I might see to the poll would be a graduated response:

Pelosi lost 100%
Reid lost 80%
Obama lost only 50% because he gains from a stronger economy
entire Dept of Defense and their families loses 20% even though they lost no $ because they have lost whatever respect they had for their C-in-C
Boehner gained 60% if the TP continues to support him
TEA Party gained 80% by strengthening Boehner’s hand
Taxpayers gained ???% pending further developments

Most of all, the game has changed. Now Boehner and Co must keep scoring points. We are winning; anyone who quits now has no understanding of what the actual battle was about.

rwenger43 on April 10, 2011 at 3:06 PM

We need a Recall Boehner movement.

Spathi on April 9, 2011 at 8:53 PM

I think you need to start a People’s Republic of Spathi. How else will you ever be happy?

rwenger43 on April 10, 2011 at 3:09 PM

The American people continue to be the losers until cuts in entitlements transpire:


Valiant on April 10, 2011 at 3:22 PM

We are all looser’s. There are many funding requirements that do not show up on the publicly released ‘Chart of Accounts’

As well as the definations used in Accounting parlance, that confuse the public so they never fully understand what hits them on April 15.

My primary issue is the use of Discretionary and Mandatory funding programs. All of the programs defined by the Constitution are lumped together as Discretionary Funding, while all of the entitlement/Welfare programs are considered Mandatory.

Does anyone who has given 25 years to the service of their country and their 1st born is in Afghanistan consider that politicians feel they have the discretion to fund the DOD however they want to, so they can divert at their discretion funds to defend U.S. to make sure the welfare recipients get their paycheck or beer money.

This is what is broken, not the amount of money available which is astronomical with out budget cuts.

MSGTAS on April 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM

BHO is the loser here, he having the most to lose with the next election coming up. While Harry Reid was just unfathomably re-elected for 6 more years, his stint as senate majority leader will be coming to an end in just 1.5 short years and will be absolutely irrelevant after that.

The Tea Party all over the country will see to that.

starman on April 11, 2011 at 11:36 AM

We simply have to add Joe Biden to this list if we want a true roster of losers. And my vote is split betwixt Biden and Pelosi for second behind Reid. Nobody beats Reid for loser. No Body!

JAW on April 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM