The shutdown of the federal government is over and the debt ceiling has been increased:
On the brink of a debt default and after more than two weeks of a federal government shutdown, Congress finally approved a plan Wednesday evening to temporarily end both crises and restore some measure of normalcy to Washington.
The eleventh-hour deal was brokered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. It will fund the government through Jan. 15 and lift the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. It also officially reopened the government, allowing federal employees to head back to work Thursday.
The president has won. The Republicans have lost.
But what has been won?
The shutdown is over. The debt ceiling has been raised. In a few months a Senate panel will submit some suggestions for deficit reduction that the president will reject. We’ve seen this movie before. Some believe that the American public is so disgusted by the outrageous performance of the Congressional Republicans it will result in a Democratic wave in the midterm elections. Peter Beinart sees things a bit more as I do:
The promise of the Obama presidency was not merely that he’d bring Democrats back to power. It was that he’d usher in the first era of truly progressive public policy in decades. But the survival of Obamacare notwithstanding, Obama’s impending “victory” in the current standoff moves us further away from, not closer to, that goal.
It’s not just that Obama looks likely to accept the sequester cuts as the basis for future budget negotiations. It’s that while he’s been trying to reopen the government and prevent a debt default, his chances of passing any significant progressive legislation have receded. Despite overwhelming public support, gun control is dead. Comprehensive immigration reform, once considered the politically easy part of Obama’s second term agenda, looks unlikely. And the other items Obama trumpeted in this year’s state of the union address—climate change legislation, infrastructure investment, universal preschool, voting rights protections, a boost to the minimum wage—have been largely forgotten.
I don’t see that any new coalitions have been built or the framework established for future agreements.