After weeks of hard negotiation a compromise deal is has been drafted and will be voted on by both houses before the end of the day tomorrow. This deal does give a political victory for some of the players and more importantly can even lead to a victory for the country provided that GOP leadership of both houses consider this as a starting point, and make certain steps to keep the pressure coming. The bill will not forestall a ratings download, but honestly I don’t believe that anything could as even a bill that cut $4 trillion doesn’t cut the deficit but merely slows down its growth.
The winner in this debate is the tea party movement (somebody tell the media and Senator McCain there is no tea party per se). Think about it for a second, on June 22nd the Democratic party was talking stimulus as part of the debt reduction plan, that talk is gone. The tea party movement has seized the conversation, the debate is no longer spending vs. cutting, now the argument is how much should be cut and/or from where. That in itself is a big win.
The big demand going into these talks was no new taxation and budget cuts that were bigger than the debt ceiling increase. That too was achieved. Tea Party demands that weren’t achieved were passage of the BBA (the legislation calls only for a vote) and bigger cuts in the budget (the plan only cuts $2.8 trillion), and finally if the GOP leadership chooses incorrectly there is nothing to stop the “super committee” from raising taxes (more about that later).
Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell were also winners. They held to the no new taxes pledge despite daily rumors that they had already folded and crafted a deal prior to tomorrow’s deadline. Boehner gets more credit than the Minority Leader as he was the face of the opposition, took all the heat, and showed himself willing to compromise, not only with Obama but with his coalition to make a deal happen.
The President was the big loser. When the United States needed a leader he was a fear-monger. There was never a chance of the country defaulting on its debts, but his rhetoric about defaulting scared the heck out of an already shaky investment community. Obama’s demand that any agreement that the ceiling increase go past the 2012 election extended the crises one more week and gave political fodder for his Presidential opponent as he chose politics over the needs of the country.
The President also left himself over-exposed. His burst of speeches and press conferences took away from the “mystique” of a speech from the Commander-in-Chief, it weakened the power of the Presidential bully pulpit to the point where his prime time speech was panned by all because he was saying the same trite talking points over and over.
Obama’s relationship with Democrats in Congress was severely damaged by this debate, some believe that he gave up too much. More importantly than their distaste for the original plan, leaders of the Presidents reluctance to commit on a plan of his own made the Democratic party feel he provided no leadership and left them to twist in the wind. The Democrats did not want speeches, they wanted they wanted Obama to roll up his sleeves and come up with his own deal.
Harry Reid was one of those victims of the President’s lack of leadership. He had negotiated a deal with the GOP a week before the final deal was struck, but the POTUS nixed the deal so Reid had to demonize his own plan. If the President had his own plan Reid would have understood Obama’s parameters.
Nancy Pelosi was marginalized in this debate. Notice that Harry Reid was always mentioned as a negotiating partner, Pelosi, whether she was there or not wasn’t mentioned as a player. Where she was seen was every-time she spoke over-the-top vitriol about every plan that was being developed. Whether they supported the Democrats or Republicans, all polls said that the public wanted the two sides to play nice and compromise, Pelosi is seen as someone who fought compromise.
The same can be said with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the Black Caucus(CBC).
Progressive Caucus leader Raúl Grijalva of Arizona said,
“This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. I will not be a part of it.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is particularly angry, he called this debt deal “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich,” (if it is a Satan sandwich does it have bacon?).
One year ago, Pelosi was Speaker and the CBC and CPC were part of the mainstream. Today they are being described as extremists even by some of the mainstream media.
Moving ahead to turn this from a political victory to a “people’s victory” three things have to happen.
Firstly, when selecting members of the super committee, GOP leaders must choose people who are willing to commit (in writing) that they will not vote in favor of any plan that includes tax increases.
Secondly, GOP leadership must anticipate and plan for the cuts in defense spending. They must explore ways to cut spending without damaging security. I would suggest they begin with the recent Government Accounting Office report which shows that by eliminating redundancies (they give specific examples) in the Defense Department, the government could save a minimum of $100 billion in operating costs, and the potential of much more.
Additionally the GAO must be directed (as soon as possible) to identify similar specific savings throughout the rest of the government. Understand the GAO report wasn’t a “fuzzy” lets find savings but a specific road map.
Finally, the Tea Party and the GOP leadership must keep on the pressure. This is a win of the battle, victory in the war to move our country away from the abyss of financial ruin is far, far away. The next battle is the budget, a plan such as Rep. Ryan’s must be moved through both houses (perhaps even Senator Paul’s 1% solution). Without a clear action plan to stop the runaway spending locomotive, as opposed to simply slowing it down America’s future is on shaky grounds.
In order to get a viable effective action plan in place it is crucial that Conservative Republicans increase their numbers in the House, and take over the Senate and White House in the 2012 Election. The only way that can happen if the circular firing squad that has developed within the GOP stops now! Its not just coming from certain elements within the Tea Party movement but its coming from the more “centrist” party voices such as Senator McCain and Columnist’s such as Jennifer Rubin who have been downright nasty toward conservatives. Lets keep our eyes on the prize guys!
Finally, the deal will be voted on by the house today between four and five pm. It needs to be passed so we can move on to the bigger battles outlined above. Once again, I urge you to call your congressman and/or senator of either party and urge the bill’s passage.
If you would like to read the entire bill, the text is embedded below: