04/12/2011 01:24 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2011

Weekly Audit: Government Shutdown Averted, But At What Cost?

Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Congressional leaders
and President Barack Obama reached an eleventh hour budget deal on Friday
night, to fund the government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year and
avert a government shutdown for the time being.

The deal would cut
about $38 billion, Amy Goodman reports
for Democracy Now!, including $13 billion in cuts to the
Department of Health, Labor, and Human Services.

John Nichols
describes the nuts and bolts of the stopgap
in The Nation:

The href="">arrangement
worked out Friday night averted the threatened shutdown with a
two-step process. First, the House and Senate passed a one-week spending
bill that addressed the immediate threat. That should give Congress and
the White House time to finalize a fiscal 2011 spending deal--on which
they have agreed in principle--before an April 15

The Republicans will not be allowed to zero
out Planned Parenthood. Instead they were allowed a separate, largely
symbolic vote, which passed the House, but which is expected to die in the

Planned Parenthood and ACORN

Baumann of Mother Jones argues that href="">the deal is a case study in the priorities
of the Democratic Party. At the last minute, congressional Democrats
rallied to save Planned Parenthood. The venerable family planning
organization was under fire because of an undercover video sting by Lila
Rose, a onetime protegee of conservative propagandist James O'Keefe, who
himself pulled a similar stunt against the anti-poverty, pro-voter
registration group ACORN in 2009.

O'Keefe's videos created a media
firestorm and Congress rushed to de-fund ACORN with little protest from
Democrats. Subsequent independent investigations revealed that the tapes
had been deceptively edited. Vindication came too late for ACORN, which
was forced to close its doors.

Baumann argues that Democrats spared
Planned Parenthood and sacrificed ACORN because ACORN didn't have friends
in the right places:

Abortion rights affect everyone.
But to put it bluntly, big Dem donors care a lot more about abortion
rights than they do about community organizers in inner

Specious "victory"

the days leading up to the deal, the media created the expectation that
the budget was a game that one party would "win." Paul Waldman of The
American Prospect
argues that in his eagerness to declare href="">"victory" in the budget showdown,
President Obama is undermining his own political agenda.

It would have been nice if when announcing the budget deal,
President Obama had set aside the politician's natural inclination to
declare victory and his own preference for casting himself as the adult
who settles things between the squabbling children. He could have said
something like this: "The deal we just made is preferable to a
government shutdown, which would have been truly disastrous. But nobody
should mistake it for anything but the tragedy it is. As a result of the
cuts Republicans have forced, people who rely on government services
will suffer, and the economy will lose jobs. The Republicans held the
government hostage, and we had no choice but to pay the

By rushing to champion the spending cuts,
Obama may be saving face, but he's also setting a precedent that will make
the next round of cuts even easier. The truth is that Democrats conceded
under duress, they didn't volunteer to cut spending because they thought
it would help the country.

Indeed, Democrats agreed to far more
cuts than the Republicans initially asked for. Cenk Uygur of the Young
Turks argues that the Tea Party and the ostensibly more mainstream
Republicans set up a very effective good
cop/bad cop
negotiating strategy in which the Democrats would offer
cuts and the mainstream Republicans would say, "I'd like to help you,
really I would, but you know my partner isn't going to like that."

Corporate taxes

Joshua Holland of AlterNet
explains how corporate American has successfully lobbied to shift an
ever-increasing share of its tax burden onto the backs of href="">individual citizens:

Well, consider href="">this:
in the 1940s, corporations paid 43 percent of all the federal income
taxes collected in this country. In the 1950s, they picked up the tab for
39 percent. But by the time the 1990s rolled around, corporations were
paying just 18.9 percent of federal income taxes, and they
forked over the same figure in the first decade of this century. We -
working people - paid the difference.

Something to
think about as we prepare to file our income tax returns.

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