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Report: Tentative Deal on Budget Being Reviewed by White House (UPDATE: Deal Reached)

Editor’s Note: A short term deal has been reached, according to both Rep. Boehner and President Obama. Bumped.

Marc Ambinder at National Journal breaks the news of a deal framework on the 2011 budget, which would include painful spending cuts but no defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Numerous GOP and Democratic sources on and off Capitol Hill tell National Journal that the outline of the deal is as follows: up to $39 billion in cuts from the 2010 budget, $514 billion for the defense budget covering the remainder of this fiscal year, a GOP agreement to abandon controversial policy riders dealing with Planned Parenthood and the EPA, and an agreement to pass a “bridge” continuing resolution tonight to keep the government operating while the deal is written in bill form […]

The proposal under review could form the basis of an agreement on a six-month continuing resolution that averts a government shutdown of longer than a few days. The prospective measure would cut spending by about $39 billion from current levels, two aides said. It would not include a ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but part of the arrangement would likely be an unspecified and symbolic procedural step intended to give Boehner and conservatives political cover on the issue, the aides said. Democratic appear to have accepted an increased level of cuts in exchange for the GOP dropping the rider.

Essentially, Democrats bought Planned Parenthood’s continued life for between $1-$4 billion, depending on who you believe.

You have to go back to the initial numbers to see the magnitude of this policy loss. In December, when a continuing resolution for the rest of the year was getting negotiated, the level of funding for FY 2011 was markedly higher than it will be under this deal. Ryan Grim runs the numbers. [cont’d.]

The difference comes from the starting point. Democrats are working off of the president’s requested budget for the fiscal year, which was $1.128 trillion. That’s the same baseline that House Republicans used when they cut $102 billion with their first bill, H.R. 1, bringing the spending down to $1.026 trillion.

But there is a number that realistically could have become law, and that’s the one that was proposed by Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Known as the Sessions-McCaskill level, it blew up in December over a fight over earmarks, but it had the broad support of both parties in general.

That figure was $1.108 trillion — $58 billion above what Democrats are now willing to accept.

That was written before this latest deal, so it’s actually $59 billion. And the benefit for exchanging the Making Work Pay tax cut with the payroll tax cut, one of the only changes in the tax cut deal that didn’t simply extend current law? $60 billion. So if you accept that Democrats could have gotten Sessions-McCaskill into the tax cut deal, four months later almost the ENTIRE stimulus from the payroll tax cut is gone. Completely. As Ryan notes, “The focus on Planned Parenthood may be distracting from a dramatic GOP victory on spending.”

The $513 defense budget is precisely the level that Senate appropriators targeted back in December. So the defense budget is basically getting out of this untouched. Republicans tried to up that defense budget above the Pentagon’s request, so that was beaten back.

This means that all $29 billion in cuts – remember $10 billion have already been enacted – will come from the non-defense budget. The latest on that is that about half will come from the discretionary budget, and half from mandatory spending. This spreads the pain, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty about what those cuts will mean in the specifics.

The stopgap bill would just keep operations continuous and ensure military pay.

Once the politics are over, we can assess the policy with clear eyes. And I think you’ll find that the failure to put the 2011 budget to bed in the last Congress cost the economy $60 billion.

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David Dayen

David Dayen