The Scrooge Party

So the House passed the Senate’s “fiscal cliff” bill, with the support of most House Democrats but less than half of House Republicans. But seemingly in a fit of pique, yesterday the House flushed an appropriations bill for Sandy victims down the toilet.

If we were living in a Dickens novel, the GOP would send Tiny Tim to the workhouses without his crutch.

As to the deal itself, Paul Krugman says it’s not terrible, but …

Well, the CBO estimates cumulative potential GDP over the next decade at $208 trillion.So the difference between what Obama got and what he arguably should have gotten is around 0.1 percent of potential GDP. That’s not crucial, to say the least.

And on the principle of the thing, you could say that Democrats held their ground on the essentials — no cuts in benefits — while Republicans have just voted for a tax increase for the first time in decades.

So why the bad taste in progressives’ mouths? It has less to do with where Obama ended up than with how he got there. He kept drawing lines in the sand, then erasing them and retreating to a new position. And his evident desire to have a deal before hitting the essentially innocuous fiscal cliff bodes very badly for the confrontation looming in a few weeks over the debt ceiling.

If Obama stands his ground in that confrontation, this deal won’t look bad in retrospect. If he doesn’t, yesterday will be seen as the day he began throwing away his presidency and the hopes of everyone who supported him.

See also Michael Lind, “Right-Wing Dreams of Demented Utopias.”