Beinart: Budget Deal a Victory for Conservatives

Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 11:37 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The debt deal that ended the government shutdown was a victory for Republicans rather than the defeat that it has been portrayed in the media, liberal columnist Peter Beinart is arguing.

Conservatives in the GOP have managed to move the goalposts so much that what looks like defeat actually gets them what they wanted.

"If this is Republican surrender, I hope I never see Republican victory," Beinart writes on The Daily Beast. "The GOP keeps moving the ideological goalposts and the press keeps playing along."

The budget control law that slashed domestic spending and will continue to do so for years to come through the sequester remains in place, Beinart notes.

Republicans have already changed the nature of the debate, he claims. "In early September, a 'clean' CR — including sequester cuts — that funded the government into 2014 was considered a Republican victory by both the Republican House Majority Leader and Washington's most prominent Democratic think tank. Now, just over a month later, the media is describing the exact same deal as Republican 'surrender,'" he points out.

This misperception results from the failed efforts by tea party lawmakers to defund Obamacare using the government closure and the debt ceiling as leverage. "Now that Republicans are backing off those demands, the press is saying they've caved," Beinart writes.

The Republicans are maybe "losing" politically in the polls but the "ideological balance of power" is tilting in the conservative direction. "The promise of the Obama presidency" was that it would be a harbinger for the passage of "progressive" legislation on gun control, immigration reform, climate change, public works investment, broadening access to preschool, expanding voting rights, and increasing the minimum wage. Beinart sees these goals as now nearly unachievable.

The GOP has been able to redefine political moderation "down," he writes. Beinart cites coverage of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who he says is erroneously portrayed as a moderate because "his rhetoric is not as harsh on cultural issues" when, in fact, his governing policies are to "the right of Ronald Reagan."

Related stories:

Boehner Survives Speakership for Now, But Rep. Tom Price Rises

Government Reopens after Congress Ends 16-day Shutdown

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