Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scoring the budget deal: Democrats get a poor grade

Unfortunately, this statement by conservative analyst Dave Weigel is correct about the outcome of the shutdown fight:

For the second time in five months, the White House has faced a political crisis, looked at an opposition that completely disagreed with liberal economics, and blinked. Five months ago, automatic tax increases were stopped, and the GOP got a validation of supply-side economics. Tonight, in a battle over a much smaller amount of money, the Democrats signed on to austerity economics. They didn’t have much of a choice, but they didn’t challenge the premise, either. We're a long way from the "Sputnik moment."
From The No-Shutdown Wrap: Boehner Wins, Austerity Wins, and the Social Conservatives Go Home With A "Participant" Trophy Slate 04/09/2011. But I disagree with his view that social conservatives were losers on the deal. That's a similar point to President Obama's claim, "At the same time, we also made sure that at the end of the day, this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues like women's health and the protection of our air and water." The problem was exactly that the debate was about spending cuts, not about the stimulus that the economy still needs. The fact that the Republicans didn't get every single destructive thing they wanted is not much of a victory with those massive spending cuts that will help push the economy toward another recession.

As Robert Reich puts it, "The right-wing bullies are emboldened. They will hold the nation hostage again and again." He elaborates (Why the Right-Wing Bullies Will Hold The Nation Hostage Again and Again 04/09/2011):

"Americans of different beliefs came together," [Obama] announced late last night. It was the "largest spending cut in our history." He sounded triumphant. In fact, he's encouraging the bullies onward.

All the while, he and the Democratic leadership in Congress refuse to refute the Republicans' big lie — that spending cuts will lead to more jobs. In fact, spending cuts now will lead to fewer jobs. They’ll slow down an already-anemic recovery. That will cause immense and unnecessary suffering for millions of Americans.

The President continues to legitimize the Republican claim that too much government spending caused the economy to tank, and that by cutting back spending we'll get the economy going again. [my emphasis]
Yes, he does. And that means that both in substance and political messaging, this is a serious setback for Democrats and especially for the people for whom the Democratic Party likes to claim it's fighting.

For Paul Krugman, Obama claiming this is a win for the Dems is really just Celebrating Defeat 04/09/2011. "More than that, he has now completely accepted the Republican frame that spending cuts right now are what America needs."

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