I say "the defeat they wanted" because the GOP leadership doesn't want to cut spending and it doesn't want the conservative wing of the party to gain any power. Their days are numbered regardless because the conservatives will get tired of holding their noses and voting. They might not vote Democrat but they might refuse to vote, and the result is Democrats winning more elections than Republicans.
The sad part of all this is that the GOP is our best hope for fiscal restraint and a balanced budget. Certainly they are historically so inclined; meanwhile the Democrats have been "tax and spend, SPEND, SPEND, BABY!!!" since 1963, which--check my math, here--is fifty years and counting.
The complicity of the GOP in the excessive growth of government is not in doubt, though, and I wouldn't try to argue that the GOP hasn't been a willing partner in this dance. That's kind of my whole problem with the GOP: their token resistance to programs and initiatives that do nothing but concentrate power in the hands of the federal government is the major sticking point that I have with the party.
Their efforts to reduce the size of government have been farcical at best, and whatever minor successes have happened in this area were accidental rather than planned. This doesn't keep them from taking credit for it, nor does it keep the aristocratic supporters of the GOP from calling it the result of brilliant strageteryness. "Federal spending declined by almost $90 billion!" That might be impressive if the deficit was perhaps $200 billion before that; but when you start with a $1,200 billion deficit and knock $90 billion off that, it's nothing but a rounding error. Federal outlays have declined only because the sequester forced them to, and now they are--exactly as I predicted, only a bit late--loosening the sequester.
We have no budget, have not had one since 2009, and the GOP--in charge of the House of Representatives--steadfastly refuses to pass one because the Senate won't pass it. That should be the point, shouldn't it? Shouldn't the GOP be sending budgets to the Senate every week (or every other week) and making them vote against them? Shouldn't the GOP be doing everything it can to make it bleeding obvious that the Democrats are happy with the way things are right now?
If they were interested in winning, that's the sort of thing they'd be doing. But they don't want to embarass their friends and they don't want to be called "mean" or "heartless" or "extreme" by the press. They can claim they want to as much as they like, but it comes down to the simple fact that they aren't doing anything, and "it wouldn't help matters" is no excuse.
...I am overusing typographic emphasis; I ended two paragraphs in a row with italicized phrases. Not good writing; bad blogger, no biscuit. *sigh*
The point is, if you want to score political points, you have to do something that shows how you're different from your opposition. The Democrats don't want to pass a budget because it will show how much government is overspending--and how much that number increased on their watch, 2009-2011--and the last thing the GOP wants to do is to call them on it because doing so would limit their power now that they have control of the House again.
The rest is bloviation and spin.
That's why Obamacare isn't going away; that's why the GOP won't cut spending; that's why we get these stupid debt deals every six months; that's why the debt ceiling hikes continue; that's why every last damned stupid thing coming out of D.C. these days is just as much the fault of the GOP as it is the Democrats.
Caving in the middle of the shutdown is bad strategy because it just exemplifies how weak you are. The better alternative was to continue to vote to fund things and let the Democrats in the Senate vote them down--funding for memorials, funding for treating kids with cancer, funding for Old Faithful, whatever. Let Obama continue his gestapo tactics of closing oceans and mountains and geysers and peoples' houses, because in the end it makes him look bad.
That is to say, it's bad strategy if you're actually interested in getting federal spending under control. But it's not too shabby if all you really want is political cover, so in the upcoming elections you don't get shellacked.
And that's all the GOP wants.
Now we get to go through the whole thing again in February, but since February is in an election year, the whole thing is going to be a wash. The debt ceiling will rise, the deficit spending will continue, and the United States will slip further into the economic depression that started in 2008.