Let's start looking at it from the perspective of core Democratic values. While not too many details of the full deal has yet emerged, we do know a few things. Among them: the Republicans' effort to defund family planning blew up in their faces, and President Obama and the Democrats protected this much needed service for poor and middle class women and families. For anyone who thinks that it doesn't matter or that it's a day late and a dollar short, you should talk to San Francisco's Monica Silva:
"I've been dealing with precancerous cells, and Planned Parenthood has prevented that from going into full-blown cancer" with screenings and medication, said Silva, 31. "They've saved my life."This is one policy issue the President, the Vice President and Congressional Democrats were not willing to let go. Both Obama and Biden drew a line in the face of Speaker Boehner's insistence that any deal must include the de-funding of family planning.
Like many other federally funded programs, Planned Parenthood stood to lose funding during the shutdown - in this case, Medicaid reimbursements to thousands of low-income clients in the Bay Area such as Silva, a hair stylist.
For now, that didn't happen.
"I'm really happy," Silva said. "That's just amazing that they've figured out a way to keep these programs going."
For more than an hour in an Oval Office meeting on April 7, House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any compromise on the government’s budget include a prohibition on federal funding for Planned Parenthood. [...]Vice President Biden stuck up for women, too.
“Nope, zero,” he told Boehner, according to a senior Democratic aide. “John, this is it.” The room went silent.
Toward the end of the meeting, after repeated efforts to insert the family planning rider, an exasperated Biden said the administration was prepared to “take it to the American people” and allow a shutdown over an issue unrelated to government spending.Let me reiterate, the President's stand against the elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood, the country's largest women's health care provider, may well have saved lives of people like Ms. Silva all across this country. I, for one, am proud of President Obama and Democratic members of the House and Senate for standing up for the largest Democratic constituency: women.
But the family planning funding issue is intricately interrelated with perhaps the most important domestic issue right now: health care. The Republicans wanted to block any money from going to implement health care reform, and guess what? They didn't get that either. And that is a big deal. Although probably the likes of Uygur would have liked health reform to be defunded (so they could claim Pyhrric victory over the failure of an un-implemented law that did not carry his favorite pony item), the truth is that health reform is essential to the health of both our people and our economy. Yes, the Republican pet repeal will still get a vote. But,
Republicans had included language to deny federal money to put in place Obama's year-old health care law. The deal only requires such a proposal to be voted on by the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is certain to fall short of the necessary 60 votes.As we have discussed multiple times here on TPV, health care reform is already saving lives, checking insurance rate hikes, making it possible for millions of small business employees to obtain health insurance, and expanding no-copay preventive care both in Medicare and in the private insurance fields. By 2014, 32 million additional Americans are going to be able to obtain health insurance. Last night's budget deal means that health reform will proceed on schedule.
It would have been a Republican (and Uygur's - you see now why I have trouble differentiating sometimes between the far Right and the purity Left) wet dream to de-fund health reform. It would have meant that regulators would not be able to enforce provisions of the law reining in insurance company abuses. Insurance companies would have had free rein to run wild, kick people off at will, and deny care for profit. We should be proud of a President who held the line, issued a veto threat, and saved health care reform - and this isn't the first time he's saved health care reform from being thrown into the dustbin of history. I would like to see the purity left, who are now screaming, tell me another way of saving health reform.
So far, we have a President rescuing two core Democratic issues: women's reproductive care and health care reform writ large. What else? The environment. Democrats have successfully kept the Republican "EPA riders" out of the budget deal. You know, the same riders that would have told the EPA, in essence, "Carbon di-oxide is not a pollutant, you can't regulate it!" Politico calls this a major victory for Democrats:
That would be a major victory for Democrats and environmental groups who have been fighting to keep policy riders on a host of regulations out of any deal.Let's remember that it was President Obama's EPA that first proposed and them moved forward with regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. While the puritan Left was busy whining and the Senate was busy being gridlocked thanks to Republican obstructionism, this President was busy taking steps to actually protect our environment. There's a reason why Republicans want to stop greenhouse gases from being regulated: they are the handmaiden of the oil, gas and dirty coal industries. Regulating greenhouses gases means that they would not be able to pollute at will, and will be forced to use energy efficient technologies. The sore spot for the industry arose in October of 2009.
“EPA riders as proposed by the House will not be included,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters. He said the deal could include a study instead.
Proposed regulations would require power plants, factories and refineries to reduce greenhouse gases by installing the best available technology and improving energy efficiency whenever a facility is significantly changed or built.Republicans are also desperate, as the regulations are beginning to take effect this year. The EPA has proposed a timeline for the new regulations, and if it isn't stopped now, it's game over.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposal announced Wednesday applies to any industrial plant that emits at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year.
These large sources are responsible for 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions—mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels—that are released in the U.S., the EPA said.
"We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change," Jackson said. "These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home."Not bad, I'll say. Three pretty big progressive policy initiatives were saved from the Republican ax. Remind me why some of the people who claim to be progressives are whining about this again? Do they think that somehow these initiatives would be saved and more if the government shut down and the funding for all the departments had run out?
EPA officials said the agency would propose new standards for power plants in July 2011 and finalize them in May 2012. For refineries, the dates are December 2011 and November 2012.
I am not one who buys into the meme that any spending cut is bad. Still, there will be some painful cuts, and the President admits that.
“Like any compromise, this required everyone to give ground on issues that were important to them,” Mr. Obama said. “I certainly did. Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful — programs people rely on will be cut back; needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.”Now, what might those better circumstances have been? Oh, I dunno, how about the screaming idiots on the professional left didn't take dumps all over the President's initiatives in the first two years, under the guise of purity politics? How about they hadn't helped along a depressed Democratic turnout? How about if they had actually helped do proper analysis and sell the benefits of health reform, financial reform, credit card reform, student loan reform, women's pay legislation, among a myriad of other things? How about they didn't help turn the House over to the Republicans wholesale? In short, how about they used their influence constructively instead of destructively?
Most details of the deal have not emerged, except for the concessions I outlined above. When full details emerge, I will try to do an analysis for you here. But the truth of the matter is, David Plouffe is right.
“There is an instinct by some in our party to say that if you cut a budget deal with the Republicans you caved. That’s nonsense in my view,” Mr. Plouffe said. “We have a responsibility to the country. We landed the plane here in a way that did produce a lot amount of spending cuts. Some of these were tough for us to abide by, but we were able to preserve so much of what’s important to us on the spending side.”I will say it again -- we are laying in a bed that the whiny Left made for us together with the teabagging Right. It's their own making. What we are looking for are solutions within that framework now. It didn't have to be this way, but it is. What President Obama needs is for progressives to get his back when he's fighting for our environment, for women, and for health care in a toxic, hostile Washington, DC. We're not going to get everything we want - but where this President has succeeded is that he's made John Boehner realize that the Tea Party won't get everything it wants either. Which may be why Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann (R-Crazy Land) are pretty upset over it, and tea party rank and file are fuming at the mouth.
So please, before you go off the rail with Daily Kos, FDL, Ed Schultz or Cenk Uygur, please do some thinking, and some fact finding. Cool the nerves. Calm down. And read. Then make your own judgments. I think you'll be more pleased than you think.