Non-essential employees win big in budget battle

Rick Robinson Author, Writ of Mandamus
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“Non-essential” federal employees breathed a collective sigh of relief last week as President Obama and Congressional leaders reached a compromise on a budget plan that averted a government shutdown. Pity was shown upon workers who were spared the embarrassment and family dishonor of being labeled “non-essential.”

While “non-essential” federal workers were the big winners of last week’s budget battle, D.C. area movie theaters were the big losers. Imagine the revenues that theaters would have generated with all of those federal employees out of work. Malls would be filled with people who would rather go to the movies than stay home and admit to their spouses and children that they were “non-essential.”

I’ve lived and worked in D.C. and know a lot of them. Many could have carpooled.

Of course, there were other winners and losers in the budget battle.


President Barack Obama — Barack Obama may love to shoot hoops, but in the budget battle of 2011 he quarterbacked a perfect naked bootleg for a score. Obama started the year by faking to the left that there would be no spending cuts, promising to shut down the government rather than bend to those crazy wing-nut Republicans. Then in a brilliant move, without any protection on his flank, he backtracked and sprinted hard to the right, taking credit for the budget cuts that Speaker John Boehner demanded.

Obama learned the slippery move from Bill Clinton, who ran the same play on welfare reform in the 90s. Clinton fought to kill welfare reform all the way through Congress before signing it into law at a big Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.

As unbelievable as it sounds, a weekend poll indicated that a plurality of Americans think that President Obama is more responsible for implementing the budget cuts than House Republicans. Expect to see budget-cutting, Tea Partier Obama in campaign ads in the spring of 2012.

Speaker John Boehner — There is a lot of debate about how Speaker John Boehner fared in the budget mess. Some are wrongfully judging him based on the final tally of the budget cuts he negotiated. While the speaker didn’t get the deal many in his party desired, no one bolted on him either. Boehner’s ability to get the best deal he could, and still keep the caucus together, solidifies his place as the top Republican in D.C.

First-term Tea Partiers — Who says freshman can’t get anything done in D.C.?


Nancy Pelosi — The former speaker may have been the only non-essential federal employee who ended up a loser. As the budget battle heated up, Pelosi headed off to give a speech at Tufts University in Boston.

Being cut out by a president in your own party is nothing new in Washington. House Democrats are learning that minority parties often don’t matter. When the Democrats controlled the House in the 80s, Reagan was constantly going around the House GOP leaders and dealing directly with Speakers Tip O’Neal and Jim Wright. But Pelosi showed poor form by simply walking away from D.C. in the middle of the battle. This won’t sit well with a caucus that was already split on her election as minority leader.

Maybe Pelosi is hoping that Tufts will find her an “essential” position following the next election.

Harry Reid — Two words: “cowboy poetry.”

Every Republican running for president – Sorry, boys and girls, President Obama just pinched your campaign platform. You can talk all you want about budget cuts, but he’s now going to run on a record of it. And with the help of the media, he might just pull it off.

It’s going to be hard to grab the budget ax from Obama now that he stole it from you. Hail to the thief.

Democrats who still dream that Hillary Clinton will challenge Obama in 2012. Say goodnight, Gracie.

Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.