The rhetoric and framing of the debt deal is much worse than it’s already objectionable content. The actual cuts made to social programs are very small and the cuts made in defense, while also small, are somewhat larger than expected.
What’s noxious is that the Republicans got their way in forcing a manufactured crisis and in watching the whole political and chattering class play along with them. That we are even talking about social spending cuts when economic growth appears to be brink on a double dip recession is nothing short of obscene. That Democrats have capitulated to Republicans by expunging the word “taxes” from the political lexicon and replacing it with the obscure term of “revenue” is equally obscene. That ANY cuts whatsoever, needed or not, all fall on the lower income and tax categories while the wealthy continue to have a chuckle is nothing short of revolting.
What are the takeaways?
Doom and Gloom.
This horrid side show goes right into the record books as one of the most stunning displays to date of an entire political system rotten and corrupt and unresponsive to the core.
I am not going to defend Obama’s posture and position in this crisis as it seems rather obvious he could have done a lot better. He certainly could have framed this whole issue properly from the beginning, he could have called out the Tea Party for the blackmailers they are, and — perhaps– he could have recurred to the 14th amendment and told the House to go fuck itself.
It certainly would have FELT better. I cannot, however, in good faith affirm in any way that it would have worked out any better. I know what the polls say. I also knew what the polls said about Reagan’s policies (and they no real-life effect). I don’t know that an American president remains viable by being a tribune for higher taxes and and by telling the country the truth about deficits i.e. at this point in history they should not be our primary concern. Is there a majority constituency for all that? Could Obama have built one? Well, go ask Don Rumsfeld, the expert on Unknowables because I sure as hell don’t know.
I do know there is plenty of guilt to go around here, enough to make this whole episode a national shame. It goes way, way beyond Obama.
We can look at the large financial houses that have become the primary funders of the Democratic Party. We can look at House Democrats who, in majority, are actually OK with this bill. We can look at Harry Reid who authored a measure not terribly different than this one. We can look at a Democratic congress who, until 2010, didn’t have the fight to to the mat over repealing Bush tax cuts and kept on gorging the Pentagon budget.
I wouldn’t exactly look at the Republicans in this case. More fitting is to take a dump on them. A truly lunatical fringe grouped together in the Tea Party first took the rest of their feckless party hostage and then went on to hold the entire country as captive. John Boehner could have stopped this cold, but then again he probably would have lost his job. So he willingly joined his captors in highjacking the government and using the GOP hold on the House as a cudgel to beat up Obama and everybody else in sight. I am not convinced he had any more room for political maneuver than Obama did.
This is a morally bankrupt party that holds no concerns whatsoever except for serving the wealthiest one percent of the country (and, yes, opposing abortion clinics). That’s about it as far as I can tell. And I think Michelle Bachmann would be the nominee that best embodies the current soul of the GOP.
A special dose of onus must be reserved for the MSM which, in my view, has performed as miserably during this crisis as any time in recent history including during its squalid performance during the run up to the war in Iraq. The simple fact is that the media never reported the underlying story i.e. that this was a stick-up by the Republican Party which purposely confused two separate issues. This story was consistently reported as some sort of tennis match between the two parties with detailed descriptions of every lob, serve and spin of the ball. Nice color. No substance. I come out of this episode with the firm desire that more networks and newspapers close down as we will be missing nothing when they do.
A few words about the American people: They are certainly the hapless victims in this horror show. But, heaven knows, they are an easy mark. Try and raise the retirement age by 2 years or cut medical services by 3% in France or Italy and all I have to say is, stand back! Many have tried and many have died. Within hours this is a general strike with 5 million citizens in the streets.
I have read of NO popular mobilizations to defend our own social welfare programs in these last few months.
Use them or lose them.
We are all losing something this week. Maybe not as much as some feared — or in perverse ways hoped for. But we’re most definitely on the slippery slope.