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Did President Obama win or lose the shutdown fight?

April 9, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Howard Kurtz, writing for the Daily Beast, argues President Obama leaves the negotiations that produced a budget deal looking like, in the words of Democratic Party strategist Jenny Backus, "a referee." Kurtz, host of CNN's Reliable Sources, contends that following the deal, the president could be seen by the public as a centrist "steering a middle course between unyielding partisans." Kurtz also quotes Joe Trippi, former campaign manager for John Edwards and Howard Dean, who says Obama is " the big compromiser at the end."

Blogger Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has a different take: As much as the President acts like he and the Democrats are the winners post-negotiation, they lost. Klein says the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, can call the $38.5 billion cut from federal spending compared to the 2010 budget proposal "historic," but it doesn't obscure that Democrats spent months saying these cuts would jeopardize jobs and could cost the U.S. its tentative exit from recession. Klein warns the White House, after noting House Speaker John Boehner secured more in cuts from the Obama administration and congressional Democrats than expected and sold his own caucus on the deal, that Boehner is a more formidable opponent than former Speaker Newt Gingrich or, presumably, former Speaker Dennis Hastert. And "claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later," Klein further warns the White House.

Carl Cameron, blogging for Fox News, credits the Republicans with the win as well, though noting the Democrats have several silver linings: A $2 billion cut for the Department of Defense and removal of provisions cutting Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio and impeding the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to act. But Cameron observes, the Republicans initially called for cutting $32 billion, before Tea Party pressure led them to demand $62 billion. With $38.5 billion in cuts, the Republican leadership got more than they originally seemed to think possible, only several weeks after Reid was calling his "historic" cuts "draconian" and "extreme."


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