Nothing for Everyone

It’s always very possible the “deal” will fail to get the votes. The only thing I will predict is that no one will like it.

Greg Sargent is calling the deal an unprecedented political victory for the GOP. I don’t know about “unprecedented”; I don’t know that it comes up to the level of the Bush tax cuts or the Iraq War resolution of October 2002. And I also suspect the Right will not be happy with it and that most of the Tea Party caucus will refuse to support it. I could be wrong about that, though.

The upside is that the Bush tax cuts are still set to expire and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are untouched. A big downside is that we could still be fighting over cutting this stuff before the current Congress expires. The “deal” creates a bipartisan committee that could do all sorts of mischief. Congress will vote on a balanced budget amendment, which I hope has no chance of passage.

And, of course, the economy will likely be worse off than it is now, although not as bad off as if the nation were to default.

Another downside is that for the rest of the week we’ll be subjected to no end of whining from the Left about how President Obama planned this outcome all along. Because, you know, he is magic and does whatever he wants.

See Ezra Klein, “A Deal That Found the Lowest Common Denominator” and “Democrats Will Lose Now. But They Can Win Later.”

43 thoughts on “Nothing for Everyone

  1. First, welcome back, maha.
    I hope the wedding will be a source of great memories for a long, long time. 🙂

  2. Ditto on c u n d gulag’s comment.

    Say what you will about President Obama, I saw no evidence of him fighting for the 98% or so that are not gazillionaires. I did not see him demanding, in public, that corporations that pay no taxes be made to pay at least a token amount.

    He has the ‘bully pulpit’ and he can embarrass the teatards. But, imo, he does not want any confrontation so he concedes – as a starting point.

  3. If one were to read anything by Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman or Richard Wolff one would understand how absolutely horrible this deal is.

    Double dip recession? More likely a depression.

  4. It’s a stretch to even call this deal pathetic.
    Paul Krugman called it catastrophic.

    I hope everyone liked their first dip, because we’re about to take a second dip into even fouler sewar waters.
    Sure, it’s not a plunge like a default would have been.
    Instead, we’ll slowly walk deeper and deeper into turd infested waters.

    The economy will remain great for the rich, and a disaster for the rest of us.

    There is so much wrong with this deal, that I could spend the rest of the day writing about it.
    If there’s any ray of sunshine, it’s that Nancy Pelose (who else?) managed to wall off most of Medicaid and Social Security. Though, my understanding is that Medicare, the BEST issue that the Democrats had to use over the Republicans in ’12, is one of the things that can be “triggered” if “compromise” isn’t reached by what are laughingly called “Bipartisan Commissions.”
    Also, feeding right into the right wing meme machine, one of the other ‘triggers’ is defense spending. So, here’s the obvious scene – while Democrats are fighting to save Medicare money, the Republicans will be fighting to save military spending. Can you spot the meme? Republicans will remain ‘the party of national security,’ and the Democrats will blasted as ‘the entitlement party.’

    The take-away is that extortion and hostage taking work. That is why any of these triggers based on ‘bipartisan’ efforts are a f*cking joke.
    And the Democrats have shown that, not only are they ok with hostages being taken, they’re even willing to shoot a few themselves before turning the guns on themselves. Cleavon Little, as you’ll recall, didn’t shoot himself in the head. The Demcorats just did.

    Is this 100% Obama’s fault? No, but read Krugman today where he goes through some ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’s,’ including the Constitutional Option, or including the raise in the debt ceiling back in December as part of the conditions for the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. But, instead, he said that he had faith that the Republicans ‘would negotiate in good faith’ over the debt ceiling. Good call, Barack!
    My retirement plan is to get into a high-stakes poker game with Obama. I can probably bluff him with a 3 showing.

    At this point, I will be surprised if Obama is re-elected. If the Republicans run a Romney, or someone other than a Tea-hadist loon, I think they’ll win. And the only thing that may stop the Republicans from control of both the House and Senate, is their own hubris. And they have plenty of that – so there is some hope there…

    Liberals and Progressives need to take this moment and realize that the Democratic Party as it is currently constituted no longer has anything to do with Main Street, and is now pretty much 100% in Wall Streets pocket.
    Since a 3rd Party isn’t really an option, what we need to do is what the lunatics on the right did. And that is redo the Party from the bottom up. That will be a lot of work. Or, we can sit on our asses and bitch and moan. I’d prefer doing something at least potentially constructive before I go.

    Overall, I think we just took another big step on our way to ‘The Dominionist Christian Corporate States of America.’ People’s misery will feed right into that. The Conservatives will know exactly how to appeal to peoples religious beliefs, ignorance, racism, xenophobia and misogyny to regain and control power. And their Corporate masters will delight in the masses of desperate serf’s willing to work under any conditions, any hours, for any pay, at any age.

    If this passes, remember 8/1/11.
    We’ll soon be adding this one to catastrophic dates like 9/11.

  5. I did not see him demanding, in public, that corporations that pay no taxes be made to pay at least a token amount.

    He advocated closing corporate loopholes quite often. Examples, here.

  6. I don’t like the deal, but I do think it was the best we were going to get. It wasn’t as God Awful as I thought it was going to be. No new revenue but the Bush tax cuts are set to expire shortly after the election. Those will go away because either Obama has won and he has a mandate, or he has lost and has nothing to lose. I would love to have some Progressive champion in the WH who could take the repugs to the wood shed, but I don’t think that would have made any difference. The Teatards won’t vote for this, my guess is my Teatard senator won’t vote for it (how bad are things when WI has a Teahadist??). The teagaggers in the House won’t vote for it so how bad can it be?? But then, Gover Norquist is endorsing it which makes me worried. I do think the negotiations have made the repugs look even worse, but then again I am far from an impartial observer. But I can imagine the ads next year against some of those freshmen teagaggers who voted against Medicare and voted against a debt deal which would have crashed our economy.

  7. “Nothing for Everyone”

    That pretty much sums it up perfectly. I took at look over at redstate.hate, they don’t like it much either, that balloon head Erickson wrote:

    “Lastly, the tears of the left on this are delicious. For that alone, I want to support this deal. But because of the foregoing reasons, I can’t support this deal. However, it could be worse”.

    Boy talk about triangulation? In my opinion the deal could be much worse, the triggers could have been massive cuts to SSI and or medicare, instead it seems to gut pentagon spending if the teabaggers can’t stop whining and agree on another deal. So again it’s pretty much nothing for everyone, Maha you should trademark that one!

  8. I’m not saying he didn’t ‘advocate.’ I’m saying that when it comes to fighting for retired folks and those on Medicaid, he was not vociferous enough. He caved too quickly.

    • I’m saying that when it comes to fighting for retired folks and those on Medicaid, he was not vociferous enough. He caved too quickly.

      The President offered a lot of stuff that would have been very, very bad to “cave” on, but whether those were serious offers or just negotiation theater is impossible to know from a distance. But it could also be argued that he shouldn’t have offered anything at all, because the debt is Congress’s responsibility, not his.

      However, my understanding is that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected by the cuts agreed to so far. Medicare may be affected later, by the “trigger,” but cuts to benefits are off the table.

  9. The difference between this deal and those earlier two deals is in the power dynamic. The very worst part of this new deal is how thoroughly it validates extortion without limit by the GOP.

    Back in December, it seemed ridiculous (to those who hadn’t been paying attention) that the GOP would risk the full faith and credit of the US by pulling a stunt like they just did. Now they’ve done it, and gotten an amazing deal, with no downside for them, really. Dems get to keep the government running, barely. Republicans get a huge bundle of cuts, the guarantee of more, no increased revenue AND a vote on a BBA. I don’t even think the GOP will count this as a painful win, overall. Sure, Orangeman and Cantor have some stuff to work out behind closed doors, but did this deal cost the GOP anything that might make them think twice about using this tactic again?

    Granted, it’s a tough position to negotiate when the guy holding your baby above the bathtub and threatening to drown it is the same guy who has been talking about drowning the baby for years now, and it doesn’t help when Obama has bought into the guy’s suggestion that the baby is looking a little dehydrated.

    But frankly, I’m not sure that this deal isn’t just pulling the bandage off slowly and painfully. It might be better if the Progressives and Tea Partiers block passage, and the pain comes all at once, and the GOP gets the message that there is such a thing as reaching too far.

  10. IMHO President Obama is getting the blame for failing to take a tougher stand against the lunatics WE (collectively) voted into office. Isn’t that a bit like buying a rottweiler and complaining that animal control is doing a lousy job when the rott gnaws your leg off?
    (Apologies to all rottweiler owners who have Really Nice dogs.)

  11. @muldoon

    Actually, that’s how I feel about a lot of it. I definitely have problems with some things Obama has done (and there are things I like that he’s done). But the honest question is what else is he going to do?

    I sometimes think Bush was the worst thing to happen to Progressives because too many of us got used to seeing the President as some kind of iconic figure – because we disliked Bush so much (and at times, obviously, understandable). But at this rate we focus too much on the President.

    We need to focus on all levels of government all the time, from city to the White House. We need to be actively engaged. We have to do right each election, all the time.

    The country elected a lot of lunatics as frankly they didn’t know any better. We have systemic problems, we’ll need to address things broadly (or for those who specialize, at our given levels of knowledge, with the understanding of our limits)

  12. Well. I’ve retreated into my fantasy world where Obama vetoes the deal if it does makes it through both houses. All along I’ve felt that the 14th amendment option was just wishful thinking to eliminate a hostage situation. but now that I’m seeing how the hostage situation has unfolded and the repugs really are willing to destroy the economy to achieve their ends, I find that fantasy is my only refuge.

    I see where biggerbox has mentioned about the BBA, but I’ve picked up mixed reporting on that issue…I’ve read where it was jettisoned, and then I’ve also read where it is included… I don’t know the deal on that, but if it made it into the deal then I would consider it a probable death knell for passage of the deal.

  13. I honestly do not understand how this could be construed as any kind of victory for the tea party or republicans, but that seems to be the way it is being spun by just about everywhere on the left…

    The tea party did not “win” because of the deal. This is not some sort of surrender on Obama’s part, abject or otherwise.

    Look, the tea party wanted one thing: they wanted not to have the debt ceiling raised at all, not by a single dollar. They lost to the tune of a couple trillion.

    The non-tea party republican leadership wanted a couple of things: primarily, they wanted to gut Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. That’s not going to happen. Secondarily, they wanted to limit the time period of any deal so we could have a couple more of these stand-offs before the next election. That, also, is not going to happen. As a last resort, they at least wanted to solidify in voter’s minds that they are the party of fiscal responsibility, the sane and sober party that wants to do what’s best with this country’s finances. According to all the polls, even that is not going to happen. So, the republican leadership lost on all points. (and, if you believe that mere budget cuts is ALL they were after, making this a win for them since we will have budget cuts, I have a bridge to sell you…)

    We will end up with budget cuts at a time when we can ill-afford it, meaning the democrats didn’t really win either, but once the republicans and tea party types embarked on this suicide bombing of the economy, that was pretty much an inevitability, to one degree or another.

    I think Obama took a horrendously bad situation and made the best he could out of it, and made the republicans look like a bunch of fools in the process.

    Now, about the only thing that could take this sort-of-victory and turn it into a defeat after all is if the entire left wing should unaccountably start wailing and gnashing their teeth about how huge and humiliating a defeat it was … tell people that often enough and loud enough and they will believe it.

    One more thing … of course Krugman is right about the economic stupidity of these cuts. Krugman is usually right on economic topics, and if we followed his policies I have no doubt we’d be in much better shape today. But, as usual, he is disastrously wrong on the politics of the thing. If we lived in a dictatorship, policy and politics could be synonymous, but as we live in a society specifically designed to force compromise, and not really very well designed for having one of the people at the compromising table be bug-nuts crazy, policy and politics do not often fully or even partially intersect these days.

    I get that it’s horrible that we’ve been forced to do this. What I do not get is how this is somehow the fault of the people that prevented the more insane types in congress from burning the world.


  14. Ian,
    I appreciate your optimism, and your defense of your opinion.
    But I fail to see how there’s anything postive out of an economy that will be shrinking rather than growing, and a party that has learned that extortion and hostage-taking are the way to get things done.
    At a time when we should be trying to restimulate the economy from the too small stimulus of a few years ago, we are instead, going to be taking money out.
    The money not available from the Federal government will have to taxed at the state and local level, or else certain goods and services become unavailable. More people will be laid off.
    We’re making what Japan did at the beginning of its “Lost Decade” look Keynesian in comparison.
    And as for the politics of it, I think most of the country sees a President trying to nod and smile as he’s been handed a sh*t sandwich. Now, he may have wanted to make a “Grand Bargain,” but he wanted that to be more on his terms. And I don’t think that’s what’s happened.
    Here’s the link from the WH:

    Just look at that word salad in the link. If you need to use the words ‘victory,’ ‘bipartisan,’ compromise’ it doesn’t sound as if it was. And if you need to add ‘economy’ and ‘american people,’ that still doesn’t smell like victory.

    Just because the Liberals and the Teabaggers are both pissed doesn’t mean it’s a nice, centerie, bipartisan kind of win.
    Teabaggers are always pissed, and view anything short of absolute and total victory as a complete loss, and we Liberals have to look for something positive in every pile of manure handed to us so that WE see something other than a complete loss. ‘Oh goody, Nancy Pelosi saved Medicare, Medicaid, and SS, from being totally hacked to death,’ isn’t a victory cry. Especially since we all know there will be cuts coming to them. And probably changes like how COLA increases are factored, age requirements, and even means testing – which will take these from the badly named ‘entitlement’ programs, to the disasterously named ‘welfare’ ones.

    I’m 53 and I don’t see much on the horizon to smile at.
    I see a nation on the verge of being the worlds most ‘exceptional’ Banana Repulbic – an armed and dangerous one, in steep decline.

    Having said all of this, I hope you’re right and I’m wrong.

  15. It’s hard for me to sort out the real winners and losers. 3 Big Victories for ObamaDems, which goes into a lot of nuts and bolts, gives me some hope. But in general, I believe Krugman is right. It will also reinforce the wingnuts’ stance that government is useless, which will become more and more true as it is defunded – a downward spiral.

  16. I honestly do not understand how this could be construed as any kind of victory for the tea party or republicans, but that seems to be the way it is being spun by just about everywhere on the left…

    Ian..just on the face of it – it’s a shakedown that been rewarded, and that in itself is a big victory for the baggers and the GOP. How ya gonna keep em’ down on the farm after they’ve seen Pareé ?

  17. “Look, the tea party wanted one thing: they wanted not to have the debt ceiling raised at all, not by a single dollar. They lost to the tune of a couple trillion”

    Ian the mistake you are making is you are using mathematics. Teatards don’t believe in mathematics, climate science, evolution or any of that other dam-fool new fangled secular progressive wiz-bang tom-foolery! The tea-tards win when El-Rushbo says they won, or GOD which ever come first.

  18. The president should never have gotten hisself involved in raising the debt limit,unless of course there are no more Dems left in the house, which there seems not to be,(back to this in a minute). The raising of the debt limit is entirely up to congress, not the president. When is the last time we’ve heard from the Democratic party on any of their views? It’s like they don’t exist anymore, and I can only guess this is the intention of the main stream media.

  19. Things Obama could have done differently:

    In Nov. 2010, rejected the GOP framing that the election was about spending and the deficit, and taken the stance that it was about a still-bad economy and a lack of jobs.

    In December, tied the renewal of Bush tax cuts to a debt ceiling hike.

    All Spring, pound the drum for jobs, jobs, jobs and stimulus, with a clean debt ceiling bill. Bring out the rhetoric about corporate jet owners contributing to the recovery BEFORE buying into the “we’ve all got to tighten our belts” schtick.

    PS. As a voter in a state where we’ve elected a Democratic governor, two Dem Senators and a majority of Dem Reps, including my own, I’m getting pretty tired of the “you shouldn’t have elected those loons” stuff. I didn’t, and my neighbors didn’t either. But we still suffer the problems.

  20. Another downside is that for the rest of the week we’ll be subjected to no end of whining from the Left about how President Obama planned this outcome all along. Because, you know, he is magic and does whatever he wants.

    I knew when Obama became President he was handed a big big plate of shit…But I didn’t know how big that plate was going to be. I don’t fault Obama for any of this nonsense…I think he’s done an extraordinary job considering the obstacles he has to overcome. And if anybody reading this has ever raised children or owned cats you know how difficult it is to try to get them to do what you want them to do, so for you folks an understanding of Obama’s situation is a little easier to comprehend.

  21. I read about macro economics but when it comes to commenting, I am a micro-economic thinker.

    When we started into this mess, my customers were buying 20 packs of Bud Light. Then, money got tight and they dropped to 12 packs, then Busch Light. Now we are down to Lost Lake beer. There is no where to go from here. If we are entering a depression, there is no where to go.

    What will be worse for me: going out of business because of the debt-ceiling deal or going out of business because of default? Looks about the same from down here. Just sayin’.

  22. I’m with Chief, cun et. al. on this. Krugman, Greenwald and Reich as well. Obama not only yielded but yielded on matters he swore were sacrosanct not long ago.

  23. moonbat,
    Thanks for the link. And the writer is right. Even Steven B. today fell into the ‘Well, maybe now the Republicans can go back to doing something about jobs and the economy.’

    Well, yeah, they JUST DID!
    If this thing passes, there will be no improvementsin the near future. There will be none becuase they don’t want any until 2013, or later, when they’re in power so that they can claim credit.
    Until then, they don’t care if people starve, are homeless, or die, just as long as they do it quietly and quickly. They would, as I’ve said a thousand times, rather rule in Hell rather than serve in Heaven.


    I’m going to go read a book. At least in it, the over-the-top villains are fictional, and nowhere near as stupid and evil as our new, or reelected, Republicans member of Congress.

  24. Haven’t read this blog in awhile (nothing personal, excessive exposure to the web is hard on my attitude if not my sanity). And I say this with respect, but I really don’t know how to be very diplomatic about it –

    With hostage-taking just established as a viable, effective, and socially acceptable legislative tactic,

    with the US economy unquestionably in for a long, long, period of stagnation if not depression,

    with any hope for vital initiatives like a carbon tax, infrastructure improvement, and a list of about 30 others nothing but a hazy distant memory,

    is it such a terrible hardship to listen to folks wonder if Brother Barack is really all that troubled about embracing an utterly insane economic policy?

    I don’t know if he’s just ineffective or he really is a Reaganist. But those who doubt his progressive, nay his Democratic convictions, don’t deserve to be marginalized by fellow progressives. The evidence is more and more on their side with every day of his administration.

    • Haven’t read this blog in awhile

      Well, then, we won’t miss you.

      is it such a terrible hardship to listen to folks wonder if Brother Barack is really all that troubled about embracing an utterly insane economic policy?

      I want to know when it was that the United States became a dictatorship and the President was given absolute power? It’s like there’s no Congress, there’s no compromised media, there’s no manipulated public opinion. There’s just a President exercising his will.

      Idiots. Bye.

  25. Well, this is Obama’s do or die time. This is now off the table. We can spend the next 15 months working on Jobs. That was the deal. Now we can have that great progressive uprising that ending this charade would allow. No more excuses, no more hurdles. Let us see what is done next in the name of the Democratic Party…

  26. Keithie was on a royal rant tonight, y’all can catch him on current TV.
    Welcome back, Maha, I hope you had a splendid time.
    Fading fast, another 16 hr day….

  27. a little off topic..but with a little abstract reasoning it could be fitting to keeping our spirits up as the repugs sink our economy.

    I remember my grandmother telling me the story of the sinking of the Lancastria during the second world war.

  28. Lets look at the score. At the moment, republicans have a strong majority in the House, comprised largely of Teabaggers with the ethos of kamakazi pilots. The bare majority in the Senate isn’t enough to overcome a filibuster, even if the House was friendly. We are on defense. We can’t score so the best we can do is keep THEM from scoring, and get positioned for the 2012 election.

    Chief, a lot of seniors who normally vote democrat voted for the Teabaggers oblivious to the hostility the Tea Party has for the ‘socialism’ of Medicare and Social Security. If cuts in those programs happen before 2012 because the Tea Party forces them on democrats, it will have a huge effect on the congressional races. Any cuts that will piss off large numbers of voters AND will be perceived by the voters as forced by the Tea Party will put democratic butts in congressional seats. So the strategy should be (since we can’t do anything legislativey) is allow the Tea Party to bully the democrats into concessions we clearly oppose and will energize voters.

  29. I’m curious how Obama is going to pivot to “jobs jobs jobs” now that he’s taken any kind of expanded government programs for “jobs jobs jobs” completely off the table, in the name of tightening our government belts. Oh, that’s right We can eliminate regulations and give corporations more tax cuts. That should do the trick. We’re at the top of the roller coster looking down. Wheee!

  30. Mr. Gulag,

    I agree with you, there is not much positive about the outcome here. I agree with you and Krugman, looked at in isolation, this is disastrously bad policy. The only victory here is that this is, I believe, the least bad outcome possible from the mess that was created on the day that all these tea party folk got elected to congress. On that day, cuts of some sort became inevitable. As Mr. Hughes notes, we are living with a House dominated by insane people and a Senate with a “majority” that is oddly enough not big enough to actually get anything passed.

    What I think Obama has managed to do is to make sure that NONE of what the insane types OR the merely greedy types ACTUALLY wanted to get done, actually got done. Mere cuts were never their goal, every faction involved had (not terribly well-) hidden goals, and every faction involved was disappointed in those goals.

    So, while I would not call this a victory for our side, I would very much call this a defeat for their side. And we should be playing that up as much as possible, in hopes that after next election we’ll have enough new democrats in congress we can actually start governing again. The thing that’s going to prevent that is if the public is convinced that in fact this was a win for the republicans after all … and I see most of the left side of the commentariat doing nothing but advance THAT goal.

    And, if you look closely at what is actually in the agreement, the policy turns out to be a lot less disastrous than first thought … we only cut something like 2 billion in fiscal 11, and 3 in fiscal 12… the real cuts don’t really kick in until after the election, and if we happen to have a democratic majority, there’s nothing saying we can’t go back and, mmm, ‘revise’ the agreement.

    You say:

    >> Especially since we all know there will be cuts coming to them. And probably
    >> changes like how COLA increases are factored, age requirements, and even
    >> means testing – which will take these from the badly named ‘entitlement’
    >> programs, to the disasterously named ‘welfare’ ones.

    Why do ‘we all’ know this? According to THIS deal at least, none of that is going to happen. SS and Medicaid are specifically completely excluded from cuts, and the only cuts possible on the Medicare side is cuts to the money paid to doctors and hospitals, not cuts to benefits. Realistically speaking, we know that none of the measures you list are actually required. And, we now know that the president and democrats in congress are willing to go to the matt to prevent those kinds of cuts from happening. So why would they?


  31. Ian,
    Yet again, you have a lot of good points.
    And I tend to agree with you.
    Yesterday, I read Krugman (who’s almost always right), and a bunch of other articles in newspapers and columnists that I trust, and I came away spooked. I kept reading more about it during the day though, and learned some new things.

    And so, upon further study and reflection, the bill is not as bad as I first feared – like you said yesterday. And I wholly agree with you that we need to put some positive spin on it for the sake of 2012.

    You may have noticed that most of the commenters here, while we may criticize the President, we aren’t reflexively against everything he does, like the writers and commenters at FDL, or the bulk of commenters at Digby’s site. I don’t go to FDL any more; and while I read Digby, and ‘thereisnospoon’ every day, I try not to do anything but hit and run with a funny observation. If you comment and don’t agree with them that everything about Obama and the Democrats sucks, and that they’re the reason for the downfall of the nation, then you are a traiterous, brainwashed moron and an Obamabot.

    Thanks for your observations. They helped me see things in a different light. I hope you come back here to comment more often.

  32. Messr Gulag,

    Yup, I do know that about the commenters here, the quality of the commentariat here is much, much higher than in the general population. It’s one of the reasons I read here every day. Well that and I actually share some blood with the Maha, but mostly the quality of the writing and thinking, both on the part of Maha and all the maha commenters. Well, most of them. Usually 🙂


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