While Republicans wanted to cut more spending in Saturday's early morning compromise to keep the government open, they think they got the better of the deal.
Here's why: HR1 was originally to seek spending cuts of $32 billion until Tea Party conservatives insisted on more than $ 60 billion. House Speaker John Boehner won more cuts than he originally sought and got the Senate to agree to votes to defund the health care reform law and groups like the nation's largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood - once votes Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said he'd never allow to come to the floor.Back on February 3, Reid called $32 billion in cuts "extreme" and "draconian."
At a news conference New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed, "I happen to think some of their cuts are extreme and go overboard. But every week they keep upping the ante and proposing extreme cuts."
Over the next decade the cuts are expected to save hundreds of billions of dollars.
The deal mandates a host of studies and audits of Obama administration policies. It also blocks additional funds for the IRS sought by the Obama administration and bans federal funding of abortion in Washington, D.C.
The history of offers on this bill goes something like this. Democrats first offered no cuts, then $4 billion, then $6.5 billion, then $33 billion, then settled at $38.5 billion.
Boehner made numerous adjustments to his offer in recent days too, but started at $32 billion, then with a Tea Party push went to $62 billion, then dropped to $40 billion, then $38.5 billion.
Democrats claimed they met Republicans halfway after the $10 billion in cuts that already passed this year were approved. They settled late Friday night at three and a half times more.
Boehner came in $8.5 billion higher than the halfway point between his high offer of $61 billion in cuts and the Democrats opening bid of zero cuts.
It was not a totally lopsided bargain. Dems have some silver linings. There were no votes on defunding the EPA or PBS and NPR. Democrats fought for and won a $2 billion cut from the Department of Defense, knocking the military appropriation for the rest of the year down to $513 billion.
But the GOP had to be able to see this as a win in the end, because it is puny compared to what they want to do next.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 budget resolution proposes cuts of $5 TRILLION in the next 10 yrs.
But the resolution is a non-binding roadmap for the committees to use as they approve tax and spending bills for next year, the resolution will never be signed into law by the president.
The next battle with consequences begins in a matter of two short weeks when the accumulated U.S. debt will be nearing it's $14 trillion legal limit. So Congress will have to vote to raise the ceiling so Uncle Sam can borrow still more money.
The administration has said it will need to be raised between April 15 and May 31 or the U.S. could default and create a new fiscal crisis of unknowable magnitude. Fiscal hawks plan to demand strict, enforceable spending caps, triggers for across the board cuts, and austerity measures in exchange for raising the debt limit.
This short-term agreement was just a beginning.