Some conservatives and Tea Parties are criticizing the budget deal Republicans agreed to with Democrats and the Obama administration on Friday. Should they be? It averted a government shutdown, extending funding for government through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2011. It is the largest spending cut in American history in terms of dollars, $38.5 billion, spending $78.5 billion less than what Obama had originally requested. It actually decreases domestic discretionary spending this year by 4%, setting it at $1.049 trillion. In previous years, domestic discretionary spending increased. It grew by 6% in 2008, 11% in 2009 and 14% in 2010. This budget deal begins to end the stimulus spending binge that began in 2009.
Throughout the negotiations, Tea Parties and Congressional fiscal hawks like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who heads the Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) kept up the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to cut more than the $32 million he had proposed in February. They insisted on the full $61 billion in cuts the House had originally agreed to, which the Senate refused to sign off on. The pressure had some effect; Boehner got the Democrats to come up to $38.5 billion in cuts.
The consensus seems to be that Republicans got the better of the deal. The left is unhappy with the budget deal. Obama was forced to backtrack from calling for a $40 billion spending increase this year to praising the $38.5 billion spending decrease. In a 180 switch, Obama is now touting the tax and spending cuts as a victory.
28 Republicans voted against the budget deal, including Bachman and King. This is a rather small number, considering there are 87 new Republican House members. Pence and several other budget hawks who spoke out strongly against compromising ultimately voted yes.