By Ed Rogers

The Washington Post

When congressional negotiators reached a budget agreement late Sunday night, the breaking news was followed by predictably tiresome complaints, whining and hand-wringing from so-called fiscally conservative Republicans. They are criticizing the president and GOP leadership, saying mainstream Republicans gave up on their pledge to cut this program and that program. But that’s an unfair reading of what is really in this budget.

Monday, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, went so far as to say, “I think you will see a lot of conservatives vote against this plan this week.” One common affliction among Freedom Caucus members is that they are mathematically illiterate. Specifically, they cannot count votes. I think President Donald Trump avoided Washington’s game of budget brinkmanship pretty well. And this week’s vote should show just that.

If you look at everything going on in Washington right now, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which Trump and GOP leaders could have negotiated a better budget than they did with this funding bill. In fact, a lot of people in Washington thought we were headed to an embarrassing continuing resolution. But the budget that members will vote on later this week is more comprehensive than most had expected. With repeal and replace still viable in the House and tax reform coming into focus, this was no time to get bogged down in the usual budget battles.

Despite the carping, this budget does some important things. And, remember, the battle over the next budget starts as soon as this one is past. But for now, this budget jump-starts the rebuilding of our military, bolsters our nation’s border security, fully funds the largest military pay raise in six years, and, in addressing an important and underreported issue, finally decouples the one-for-one spending of non-defense discretionary spending with funding for the nation’s defenses. If anything, I see this budget as “The Art of the Deal” at work.

Imagine the criticism and consequences that the Trump White House and the entire GOP would be facing right now if we were in or on the brink of a government shutdown. Frankly, I’m surprised that the Democrats positioned themselves so they couldn’t make a shutdown happen. After all, there’s no question of who would have gotten blamed.

Having watched Washington budget battles for the past 35 years, it is my view that the GOP has escaped a calamity and will live to fight another day over the next budget. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisconsin, wasn’t just spinning the political reality of the budget, he was right to call it “a significant departure from the Obama years, and a big win for the new administration.” The president’s Republican critics can choose to have government shutdowns and line-item grievances, but doing so only comes at the expense of Republicans demonstrating that they can properly run the government and execute an agenda.

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