Chris Cillizza: Winners and Losers from Debt Deal


    Chris Cillizza’s analysis seems about right to me. Winners include: 1) Mitch McConnell (ugh); 2) the Tea Party (I know, retch!); and 3) President Obama (“remember that Obama’s target constituency in 2012 is not his base but rather independent and moderate voters. And those fence-sitters love compromise in almost any form.”). Losers include: 1) Congress (“about as popular as poison ivy” before this… imagine just how much further that discontent has spread after this” debacle); 2) The Gang of Six (“The group was supposed to put lie to the idea that true bipartisanship – in which both sides give somewhat equally – was dead.” Nope.); and 3) Liberals (“With no revenue in the initial phase of the legislation and Medicare cuts on the table in the second phase, there’s not much for the ideological left to celebrate.”)

    So, are you psyched or what? OK, obviously, most of us aren’t psyched at all. In fact, many of us are angry, disgusted, horrified, and depressed by this all-spending-cuts, unbalanced, at-the-point-of-a-metaphorical-gun, debt deal. I guess about the only positive things I can say at this point are: a) that our nation won’t default, which would have been a catastrophe; b) that our nation’s credit rating almost certainly won’t be downgraded, which also would have been really, really bad; c) that President Obama’s reelection chances probably went up (if for no other reason, I want Obama reelected to ensure that the Supreme Court doesn’t have a 6-3 or 7-2 conservative majority for the next several decades); and d) that hopefully a lot of peoples’ eyes – particularly true believers in the Cult of Bipartisanship, “Centrism,” and “Both Sides” thinking – will be opened to the truly extreme nature of today’s Teapublican Party, and the utter impossibility of any compromise with these people.

    Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got right now; anyone else?

    P.S. Also, see Aznew’s excellent, hopeful analysis, which I generally think is spot on.

    • pontoon

      the bank, may completely lose his base…and he can’t win without it.

    • aznew

      the Tea Party.

      As I have written, their existing followers have become more intense, but this fight and their emergence as unreasonable nihilists virtually eliminated any chance of the movement spreading to independents.

      The Tea Partiers, BTW, will seal their fate in September, when they once again throw a temper tantrum and threaten to shut down the government unless they get their way on next year’s budget. They can’t help themselves — some of them will feel empowered by what they may perceive as making the President back down in this deal, and some will feel that this deal screwed them and they need to get back whatever they lost.

      If they are dumb enough to try to use this tactic again so soon, however, I suspect the country will be ready to put them in a time out.

    • pvogel

      Thats about how palatable this is.    The only good thought I have is the real racisticle republican  who wanted Obama to default, are frustrated.

    • cvllelaw

      I wish that Barack Obama would stand up and say, “Folks, I just want to tell you right now that this deal will assure a no-growth economy, and probably a second dip of a double-dip recession, until we have sense enough to abandon it.  I went for this deal not because it will put people back to work — it won’t.  I went for this deal because the alternative would have been worse.”

      I am appalled that no one in the public debate is willing to stand up for Economics 101.  In the 1970’s Nixon finally gave up and admitted that “We’re all Keynesians now,” referring to two things — that there are limits to what monetary policy can do to promote job growth, and that deficit spending is sometimes the only way to promote job growth.  

      In 2011, we are left with the Grover Norquist message that we need to drown government in the bathtub.  I had hoped that the 2008 election would have been remembered as the election that validated the role of government in responding to crises — to Katrina, to Lehman Brothers, etc.  Instead, it is being seen as the high-water mark for big government, as though we have all forgotten why government is needed.

      If Democrats are successful in doing something that they have never done before — present a unified message that blames Tea Party Republicans for this fiasco of an agreement — then Aznew’s analysis that the Tea Party will have been a loser will be borne out.  But I don’t see that happening.  Obama doesn’t have the guts (or some other anatomical part) to get down in the mud with those guys, so I tend to agree with Chris Cillizza that the Tea Party will come out of this legitimized.

      Keep in mind that the way out of the Tea Party/Norquist world is NOT for Democrats to defeat the Tea Party folks; it is for regular Republicans to defeat the Tea Party folks.  

      I can deal with a political world where both parties at least agree on the basics (such as the fundamental premises of Keynesian economics).  In such a world, the consequences of losing an election are not so dire.  I can’t deal with a political world where one party just has an alternate view of reality.

    • cvllelaw

      He agrees with me.

      … the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

      Start with the economics. We currently have a deeply depressed economy. We will almost certainly continue to have a depressed economy all through next year. And we will probably have a depressed economy through 2013 as well, if not beyond.

      The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further. Pay no attention to those who invoke the confidence fairy, claiming that tough action on the budget will reassure businesses and consumers, leading them to spend more. It doesn’t work that way, a fact confirmed by many studies of the historical record.

      Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

      And then there are the reported terms of the deal, which amount to an abject surrender on the part of the president. …

      Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.

      It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. …

      In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.