US budget deal: Winners and losers
Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. Everyone in my family, that is. We are about to take some holiday, spend some time taking friends round the sights of Washington DC and then visit a national park. Now these attractions will stay open for business.
I am sure many Americans share this sense of relief - that their government has not shut down, and for more serious reasons than mere avoidance of holiday season disappointment.
There's little doubt that it would have made America look rather ridiculous and people would have blamed politicians as a class.
But who are the winners and losers?
The Republican leader, Speaker John Boehner, is a clear winner. Had there been a shutdown, his party would have suffered, and his authority would have been damaged. He negotiated skilfully between the Democrats and his own ardent members and won a deal that many independents will welcome as sensible and necessary.
For the Tea Party movement, too, it is a success. They have made their agenda Washington's agenda. They have stiffened the steel in their leadership's spine to hold our for deeper cuts. But if they complain that this is not enough, or that they've been betrayed, they will look petulant and fall into a Democrat trap - that of looking and sounding like extremists.
The social conservatives, for a time insisting on a rather incoherent anti-abortion policies tacked onto the budget ("fungible money" doesn't make it into a soundbite), risked disaster for their party.
They appeal to a minority in the country and look politically irresponsible - a danger to their party's electability and the purity of the Tea Party's economic and constitutional messages.
The Democrats as a whole don't come off well. They look like realists, but they've given a lot of ground. These cuts will hurt their natural supporters and undermine plans and projects dear to their hearts. The tactics were quite skilful but I can't see the strategy .
President Obama has made the best of a bad job. He has tried to celebrate the agreement as the American virtue of compromise in action. He made himself look like an honest broker, standing for sensible compromise, rather than the deeply involved player that he is. He did a good job of making a shutdown sound really scary, and so pushing the Republicans towards a deal. But once again he looks like a skilful chairman, rather than a leader. The cuts he has had to accept will, I imagine, undermine important parts of his programme.
With bigger battles ahead, over the 2012 budget, the debt ceiling and the deficit, President Obama has yet to explain how he will fund hope and pay for change. By welcoming the deal, as he must, he has embraced a pared-down vision, accepted something smaller and meaner than he offered in 2008.
It was obvious this blow was coming after last year's elections, but it is a serious blow to the presidency nonetheless.
I'll be back in a couple of weeks.