Thursday, July 21, 2011

Deficit Fetish

President Obama is doing his "balanced approach" thing, supporting the resurrection of a bipartisan gang (see my prior post Gangsters) and reaching across the aisle to achieve compromise on the debt ceiling.  He is using his remarkable powers of persuasion and oratory to convince the American people not only that the debt ceiling must be raised by Congress to avoid catastrophe, but that at the same time we can solve our most immediate problem -- not unemployment -- the long-term deficit.

Obama could argue that raising the debt ceiling has always been considered a "housekeeping matter" not something to bargain over, and that the disastrous impact of failing to do so would require him to do what former President Clinton claims he would do -- bypass Congress.  Instead, Obama appears to see the debt ceiling negotiations as a chance to do something big about deficit-reduction, and is seizing the opportunity by embracing massive spending cuts. This will do nothing to create jobs.  But who cares?

So while the pundits continue to praise the president for being politically savvy, winning over independent voters, and making the crazed House Republicans who categorically refuse to agree to an increase in the debt ceiling look even crazier, it seems to me that the Republicans have won -- and have won big.  After all, they've got the president adopting their language about the government needing to live within its means and accepting the overarching goal of taking immediate steps to reduce the deficit, thereby giving political cover to their cynical economic arguments for gutting social programs.  Short-term spending to stimulate demand and actually create jobs is off the table.  Hooray for bipartisanship!


Post a Comment