Many recent articles have trumpeted the "bipartisan breakthrough" that led to a federal budget deal. Don't believe any of them. Partisan warfare is very much alive.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a key broker of the budget deal, signaled that a standoff over the debt ceiling is coming soon.
Said Ryan: "We, as a caucus, along with our Senate counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what it is we want to get out of the debt limit. We don't want 'nothing' out of the debt limit. We're going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight."
The comments show how broken our legislative system has become. Just days ago, Ryan agreed to a budget deal that increases the federal debt — and hailed it in a series of interviews — but now he won't agree to raise the debt ceiling mandated by the very same budget deal.
In the last fiscal standoff in October, the Obama administration held firm and refused to negotiate over the debt ceiling. Expect the same reaction this time.
Of course, the real reason there was a budget deal is that Republicans felt it was politically advantageous. With the White House on the defensive for nearly two months over the ObamaCare implementation, Republicans don't want to do anything to distract from their woes.
Newt Gingrich said it best: "I think this is mediocre policy and brilliant politics. It doesn't get them what they want on policy terms, but it strips away the danger that people will notice anything but ObamaCare. And the longer the country watches ObamaCare, the more likely the Democrats are to lose the Senate."
He's right. The budget deal probably is good politics — at least in the very short term.
So as both sides move the country to the edge of the fiscal brink early next year, remember it's all about politics. But will the politics still be good for either side?