Conor Rogers, Editor
The media is currently tossing around the term “compromise” and “deal” for a budget agreement that cuts spending by 2.4 trillion dollars – 1.4 of which may end up being across the board cuts – with zero definite tax increases.
This deal is a magnificent compromise – between the Tea Party and Moderate Republicans.
Four weeks ago, Republicans were under assault as the enemies of Medicare, as sellouts out to slash grandma’s healthcare to protect corporate jet owners all while plagued by an especially dully primary field. This morning, they’re the fiscal heroes who paralyzed Washington to bring the country back from the brink of default.
But it was a brink that the GOP themselves created to force the Democrats’ hand on spending. It’s been a while since we had a true spending fight – DC hasn’t proposed a budget in 20+ months.
The GOP drew an important but entirely artificial line at the debt ceiling, creating a show-stopping controversy out of an issue that Congress has addressed over 100 times without much discussion. If the debt “deal” passes, the Republicans will have pulled off one of the most sunning political plays in history: a 2.4 trillion dollar budget cut in exchange for absolutely nothing — branded as a middle-of-the-road agreement. Democrats did not manage to sneak a single one of their legislative priorities into one of the biggest deals Congress has ever cut. The only compromise that happened in Washington this week was the staged sacrifice of the Balanced Budget Amendment, a tea party pipe-dream.
In a matter of weeks, the GOP forced a big-spending President who just last year expanded government entitlements to include healthcare for all to his knees. The stunning political reality of President Obama, elected as a liberal savior, actively lobbying for a deal that shrinks government by trillions of dollars cannot be understated.
Facing down a credit downgrade, fiscal liberalism has been banished from the beltway. More accurately, it surrendered –Democrats and President Obama inexplicably buckled. Last night’s debt agreement is the equal and opposite reaction to the bailouts, the stimulus, and the Affordable Care Act — and the spending rush at the end of President Bush’s second term.
This debt ceiling deal confirms a new political reality that has been taking shape since late 2009: American economic politics has jumped rightward – more accurately, yanked rightward – thanks to an uncompromising Tea Party. A 2.4 trillion dollar slash to federal government is being heralded as a moderate compromise.
Thank God. The “center” of our economic debates should always be something resembling a balanced budget, while the far left encourages incurring debt for entitlements and stimulus, and the far right argues for defense spending and tax reductions.
The Tea Party thinks the immediate cuts don’t go far enough, and liberals are outraged we didn’t hike taxes or increase revenues during a recession. Good – both ideas are far too risky in a shaky economy. We can’t pull billions of dollars out of the US economy this year – government dollars or private dollars, spending cut or tax hike.
If you’re under 40, this is an occasion to celebrate. The fiscal insanity that has dumped an unfathomable amount of debt on you and your (maybe-not-even-born-yet) children is under arrest. The likelihood that we’ll face a tax hike down the road simply to pay off our parents’ tax-cuts-while-spending lunacy just got a little less likely. For all the antics the Republican Party has produced the past two years, this stand on the national debt is why they were sent to Washington — not to defund Planned Parenthood or decide where the President was born — but to do something absolutely radical and put a stop to the spending binge.
Simply because we’ve had this debate at all, it’s fair to declare the days of reckless spending over and dead – if not sent to the political wilderness for at a few election cycles. American voters will not forget about the debt ceiling – and will never allow it to be raised without discussion ever again. Republicans have yanked American spending policies three steps to the right – and for the first time in decades, addressed the grotesque generational theft going on in Washington. Like an addict facing an intervention, we’ve recognized our problem – nearly 15 trillion dollars, five Presidents, three tax cuts, three wars, and four economic programs later.
Hello sanity, it’s nice to see you.