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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Upside of the GOP Shutdown Defeat -- By Fred Barnes, The Wall Street Journal

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 Republicans can't go on offense, but the intact budget sequester will allow them to play effective defense

In the deal that ended the government shutdown, Republicans lost. They got almost nothing they'd sought. But what has been largely overlooked is that the deal didn't curtail, much less end, the automatic spending cuts known as the budget sequester. And undoing the sequester is what President Obama and Democrats wanted most of all.

The survival of the automatic spending cuts gives Republicans the upper hand in confronting the White House and congressional Democrats on budget issues and new proposals by Mr. Obama that would involve new outlays, such as his plan for universal pre-K education. For Republicans eager to corral federal spending—and that's most of them—the sequester is a gift that keeps on giving.

Democrats, especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are fit to be tied as they watch cherished social programs gradually shrink. The sequester, enacted during the struggle over the debt limit in 2011, was the brainchild of the White House. It requires $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years in nonentitlement spending, $84 billion in 2013 and $109 billion in 2014.

To say the sequester has backfired for Democrats is putting it mildly. The specter of automatic cuts was supposed to scare members of a Senate-House panel assigned to forge a bipartisan budget accord. If they failed, the sequester would become law. Democrats believed this would never occur. But it did.

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