Nightly News | April 09, 2011
>>> of high political drama and skirting right up to the edge of a midnight shutdown, the american government was open for business today. and while that has members of congress patting themselves on the back for working out a budget compromise, it was president obama who was out running a victory lap today, literally jaunting up the steps of the lincoln memorial this afternoon. the president greeted surprised tourists at one of the places that stood to close if that budget deal hadn't been done. but for all the congratulations, the $38 billion lawmakers trimmed out of the budget amounts to just a drop in the buck net the face of a $14 trillion debt. and more money battles are just around the corner. nbc's mike viqueira begins our coverage. he's at the white house tonight. mike?
>> reporter: good evening, lester . they are calling it the biggest cut to annual government spending in american history . today, both sides are taking credit, even as they prepare for a bigger budget battle to come.
>> this is what america is all about.
>> reporter: president obama surprised tourists today at the lincoln memorial , highlighting the end, for now, of the budget crisis . and that the government is open for business .
>> because congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today and everybody is able to enjoy their visit. and that's the kind of future cooperation i hope we have going forward.
>> reporter: the agreement was reached just 90 minutes before the government would have partially shut down. even as he hailed the deal, mr. obama warned the cuts would be painful.
>> beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help america compete for new jobs. investments in our kids' education and student loans. in clean energy and life-saving medical research .
>> reporter: it was a dizzying day of trading offers and racing the clock.
>> this has been a lot of discussion and a long fight. but we fought to keep government spending down because it really will, in fact, help create a better environment for job creators in our country.
>> reporter: the agreement trims $38.5 billion from this year's budget . that's $5.5 billion higher than the president wanted early in the week. in the end, both sides claimed victory.
>> we've agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year.
>> reporter: but there was a final sticking point. republican demands to cut federal funding for family planning clinics, including planned parenthood , which, among its medical services, performs some abortions with nontaxpayer funds. in the end, democrats won out and the measure was dropped. but the budget battles may have just gotten started. all told, the new agreement cuts just $1 in $100 of federal spending. next week house republicans will vote on a much bigger, even more controversial plan to slash the national debt , begin with next year's budget .
>> if we stay on the current path, we are heading toward a debt-fueled economic crisis . meaning massive tax increases, sudden cuts to vital programs, runaway inflation or all three.
>> reporter: lester , paul ryan and republicans in the house would get there in their debt reduction plan by making what are already controversial changes to medicare. democrats are calling it a privatization scheme. one thing everyone can agree on, unless fundamental changes are made to those entitlement programs , medicare and medicaid , that reduction will not happen. lester ?