At his first White House briefing after House passage of the debt-reduction plan, press secretary Jay Carney hailed it as a “victory for the American people.”
He was only half right. It’s a victory, all right. But not for the American people. It’s a victory only for the least intelligent, least well-informed, most stubborn, most selfish and most dangerous of the American people. In other words, it’s a victory for the tea party.
Forget the story put out by the White House and the media that this deal is simply, like most legislation, a typical compromise. You’ve heard the spin: Both sides had to give. Neither side got everything it wanted. Republicans and Democrats had to split the difference.
Baloney! Paul Ryan bragged that the final deal delivered two-thirds of the cuts contained in his earlier, disastrous budget bill. John Boehner claims he got 98 percent of what he demanded in the negotiations. This was no compromise. This was total surrender – by Democrats and the White House. There is nothing – nothing – to celebrate about this 11th-hour debt-reduction agreement.
What President Obama signed into law is a bad deal for the American people, for several reasons. First, because it’s built on the tea-party premise that Congress can’t raise the debt ceiling without a dollar-for-dollar reduction in government spending – when, in fact, there’s no connection between the two, and never has been. Since 1980, according to the Washington Post, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 39 times, including 17 times under President Reagan, four times under President Clinton, and seven times under George W. Bush – with no strings attached, simply because a great nation has an obligation to pay its bills. Period.
But it’s worse than that. Once having accepted the link between paying our bills and cutting the budget, Obama then ended up signing off on a lopsided deal comprised of severe budget cuts, but with no new revenues gained from getting rid of subsidies to oil companies, closing loopholes, or asking big corporations and the wealthiest of Americans to pay their fair share of taxes. When it came time to cut a deal, the notion of “shared sacrifice” Obama so persuasively argued went right out the window.
But not to worry, argues the White House. New revenues may not be part of this initial deal, but they will definitely be considered by the “super committee” of 12 House and Senate members charged with coming up with the next round of cuts by Nov. 23. And that, my friends, is pure wishful thinking. There is zero evidence that it will be any easier to forge a balanced deal of cuts and revenue in November than it was in July – especially when Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have promised to appoint only Republicans who vow ahead of time they will never, never agree to new taxes of any kind. This super committee is a dead-end street.
Meanwhile, economists warn the debt deal will slow down an already lethargic economic recovery. And the highly respected, nonpartisan think tank The Economic Policy Institute estimates the deal will cost the economy 1.8 million jobs in 2012. That’s right. Despite all the high-flying rhetoric about jobs being their top priority, Republicans and Democrats have adopted $4 trillion dollars in spending cuts, which will kill jobs not create them, and send the unemployment rate back up over 10 percent, right in the middle of the 2012 election.
Now, it’s clear why Republicans would embrace such a plan: They want the economy to fail because they want Obama to fail so they can deny him a second term. But why would Obama and Democrats agree to such a wretched deal? Two reasons. First, because Obama folds too easily – as he’d earlier demonstrated by ditching the public plan option and extending the Bush tax cuts, but also because Democrats allowed themselves to be painted into a corner by take-no-prisoners tea partiers.
In the middle of the debate, Sarah Palin got upset because Joe Biden allegedly compared House Republicans to terrorists. But, whether he did or didn’t, that’s exactly how they operate – first with the debt-reduction deal, and now with FAA funding.
What do you call those who take people hostage, hold a gun to their head, demand ransom and don’t care how many innocent people suffer because of their actions? If that’s not a terrorist, I don’t know what is.