Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:37 PM
Recursion (48,909 posts)
The best part of this fiasco? The Very Serious People have been played for fools
The importance of these will be plain by the end.
To summarize, for normal people who haven't been staffers:
There are some Very Serious People out there who are deeply concerned about "the deficit".
They have been saying, for about 20 years now, that if we don't reduce "the deficit", a mysterious class of vigilante investor is going to punish us.
These vigilante investors have failed to appear, so they had to create their own. During the debt ceiling negotiations, some of these Very Serious People talked House Republicans into creating their own vigilante situation, where Congress would enact strong austerity measures if there were not a comprehensive deal on "the deficit".
The austerity took the form of significant spending cuts to everything except the most important entitlement programs, and they were timed to coincide with the previously-scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
In fact, they made such an impressive package together, that between them the long-term deficit essentially disappears. Poof.
So, these Very Serious People are the Tom Friedmans of the world, for the most part: they assume if two people are arguing about something, the "truth" lies "somewhere between the two". So the assumption was that Democrats would agree to some entitlement cuts, Republicans would agree to some tax increases, and everyone would march on in a happy centrist wet dream.
However, their scare tactics worked a little too well, in that the sequester was so effective at eliminating the deficit that any plan that would pass Congress would be worse than it, from a deficit standpoint. So you're saying that because the deficit is so bad, you have to vote to increase the deficit over what it's scheduled to be. Makes no sense? Good: that means you're smarter than Tom Friedman, and can be allowed to use a fork unsupervised.
When this ended, at least for a lot of us who work or have worked on the Hill, was when Obama said any deal has to include Presidential authority for the debt ceiling, a measure that McConnell introduced and then filibustered when he saw it might pass. That's literally the only leverage Republicans have now, and giving it up in order to break their campaign promises to never raise taxes would be, well, electorally dubious, to say the least.
But that aside, even more beautiful than McConnell and Boehner humiliating themselves, is that the Very Serious People who are so worried about deficits are now left to explain why the single biggest deficit reduction package in history is a bad idea and has to be undone. God willing, this could shut up deficit fantasists for at least a week. Maybe two.
Anyways, the two things I linked at the top are important because the Republicans in the House voted to undo most of the sequestration of spending, and then would not vote even for the tiny increase in revenues that Boehner tried to put in to at least pretend he was putting something on the table (did you see Pelosi's comments today? If you're on DU, I bet you did. She, apparently, can count to 218, a feat of arithmetic that has stymied Speaker Boehner multiple times now).
So, we have Very Serious People eating crow, Republicans refusing to decrease the deficit via either revenues or spending, a good portion (not enough, but a good portion) of the damaging cuts in the sequestration undone, with Senate approval still required, and a Speaker and Senate Minority Leader who have been humiliated and hung out to dry by their own caucuses.
All in all, I call that a good week.
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The best part of this fiasco? The Very Serious People have been played for fools (Original post)
Response to Recursion (Original post)
Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:44 PM
patrice (47,992 posts)
2. Excuse me, ahem . . . . OH! absafuckinglutely!!! The vigilante investors didn't materialize because
at least some of them have themselves over various barrels, so they can't or don't want to materialize, but we're supposed to believe that they will we so that we will bail them out by preserving their tax cuts.
Thank you for posting!!!
Fascinating reads! Will share!