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The Debt Deal: Winners & Losers

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, economist Stephen Moore said, “Liberals are furious with President Obama for agreeing to the debt ceiling deal with Republicans. The deal would cut about $900 billion in spending over the next 10 years automatically, and as much $1.5 trillion more through a special committee's recommendations later in the year.”

This is not the deal the president had in mind in January, shortly after  Congress passed and he signed into law an extension of the Bush tax cuts and began to focus on the need to raise the federal debt ceiling.

The big winners in all this are congressional conservatives who, from a position of weakness, slowly and deliberately took control of the debate.

They began by developing through the conservative House Republican Study Committee the plan that came to be known as “Cut, Cap and Balance,” which, at the onset, few thought had the chance to be taken seriously.

Not only was it taken seriously, “Cut, Cap and Balance” became the cornerstone of the GOP negotiating position and actually passed, narrowly and on a bipartisan basis, through the House before it was stopped in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Not everyone who backed “Cut, Cap and Balance” liked the final deal either. Indeed many of its strongest supporters in the Senate voted against the final package, but their imprint on it is undeniable.

It has been a nasty and bloody fight, one of the worst in recent memory. Its outcome leaves the president in a weaker position and congressional conservatives in a stronger one than either of them were in when the debate began. How it will all play out over the coming months is uncertain but, with a presidential election just about a year away, the president has far less room for mistakes -- and in which to further alienate his base of support -- than the Republicans do.