"As a conservative, I deal with the situation as it exists," Ryan said in defense of the deal. "I deal with the way things are, not necessarily the way I want things to be. I've passed three budgets in a row that reflect my priorities and my principles, and everything I wanted to accomplish. We're in divided government. I realize I'm not going to get that. So I'm not going to go a mile in the direction I wanted to go to, but I will take a few steps in the right direction."
Few steps. Better than no steps.
The other option for Republicans was to stick with the original sequester, which might very well lead to another government shutdown. It's been done before and will be done again -- but the current timing is not right for a shutdown.
A budget shutdown would allow President Obama to pivot away from the Obamacare debacle and point his finger at Republicans for shutting down the government.
A grand pivot is exactly what Obama needs at this point. A poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University noted a plummeting approval rating for Obama. "President Barack Obama's job approval among American voters drops to a new low, a negative 38 - 57 percent," noted the release. "American voters say 41 - 38 percent that they would vote for a Republican over a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives, the first time this year the Democrats come up on the short end of this generic ballot. Independent voters back Republican candidates 41 - 28 percent. Voters also say 47 - 42 percent that they would like to see Republicans gain control of the U.S. Senate and the House."
There will continue to be vocal critics on the right that would prefer to hold the line on spending no matter what and face a potential shutdown rather than deal with Democrats. But their shutdown would provide Obama with the relief he needs.
Ryan is right. A baby step in the right direction is better than no step at all.