The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown, which was widely seen as Democrats "conceding defeat." Republicans won $4 billion in spending cuts in the deal to keep the government funded until March 18, although the trimming came from programs President Obama had already said were unnecessary. Democrats vow they'll rebound for the "real battle" over the budget for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. But after this setback, can Democrats regroup? (See Democrats push for compromise)
They can recover... with Obama's help: Don't count out the Democrats, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. As soon as this "two-week reprieve" was passed, President Obama got into the game by inviting leaders to "hammer out a deal" at the White House. This is the same kind of last-minute power play Obama used when the Bush tax cuts were about to expire last year, and "despite the skepticism of people like, well, me, it worked."
"Wonkbook: The White House gets off the bench"
The stage is set for yet another Democratic defeat: It looks like Republicans will be getting the enormous budget cuts they want after all, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. Democrats couldn't drive a "wedge" into the House GOP — not even with an amendment forcing them to "go on the record in support of Big Oil subsidies." So we're heading into a showdown between Democrats who are "struggling" to unify their caucus, and Republicans who already have. "Figure out the winner."
"Senate Dems 'scrambling to unify' after budget loss"
Republicans still need deep cuts for a real victory: The "center of gravity has shifted" in the GOP's favor, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. The question is "how strenuously the White House will defend its domestic programs," and how much Republicans can chop out of the larger budget. Of course, this is all a warm-up for the fight over entitlement reform, "which as we all know, is where the real money is."
"It's a landslide: Senate passes $4 billion in cuts"