In the struggle over government spending for the current fiscal year, the Republicans have forced the White House and the Senate Democrats into a series of retreats, and the outcome is likely to reflect more what the Republicans want than the objective situation seemed to warrant at the outset. Both sides are feeling their way along in a situation with more uncertainties than usual, but this is a most unusual time in Washington. Both sides have already made miscalculations, but thus far, the House Republicans, who were not expected to play such an important role, have held the upper hand. It appears that House Speaker John Boehner, at first taken aback by the rebelliousness of the Tea Party-backed members of his flock is now using them as leverage to his advantage in this fight—which could also help cement his relationship with them. The absence of leadership from the White House—yes, we're back to that—has left Senate Democrats to fend for themselves, with the result that so far they have been taking a more passive role than the "upper body" usually does. The deal that was reached on Friday, March 4 to keep the government going until March 18 in order to avoid a shutdown simply postpones what may be further capitulations to the Tea Party-dominated house.
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