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Lucy and the Football

News has it that a compromise has been reached to allow the US debt ceiling to be raised.

I use the term “compromise” loosely. Apparently, Democrats have compromised by agreeing to a trillion or so dollars in spending cuts, agreeing to take the heat from the Republican base for raising the debt ceiling, obligingly preparing to take the heat from its own base for the cuts, and surrendering any revenue increase whatsoever, not even so much as allowing the shoot-yourself-in-the-face Bush tax cuts to expire, while Republicans have compromised by… um…


Really nothing. Republicans’ big “concession” is to raise the debt ceiling, which Republican leaders had wanted in any case, once it became clear that even Wall Street disapproved of lmiting the money supply. Oh, there’s also some sort of talk about cutting defense spending, but that happens in the future, past the 2012 elections, when a new Congress will have the authority to rewrite the agreement. The current legislative body cannot encumber future ones. Additionally, it establishes the precedent that the nation’s economy can be held hostage to unrelated policy, and demonstrates that the power to set policy belongs to those crazy enough to bring the whole structure down if they don’t get their way.

The Bush tax cuts should be an easy target. 80% of Americans favor a tax increase for those earning more than $250,000 a year; a whopping 44% of teabaggers will concede that maybe that would be a good idea. Yet no taxes will be raised, for anybody, under any circumstances. Poll after poll suggest, albeit less dramatically, that a majority of Americans do not support the massive spending cuts of this bill. Once again, conservatives walk away with everything they want short of a signed confession that Obama is a secret Muslim seeking to overthrow America, liberals get nothing, and the general public gets the finger.

Don’t take my word for it. Take conservative pundit Kathleen Parker‘s opinion, in which she castigates the teabaggers for holding out for more when this “compromise” gives conservatives everything they want short of a signed confession that Obama is secret Muslim planted in the White House for nefarious purposes. (What Congressional teabaggers are holding out for at this point is the sole, narrow justification for massive, self-destructive cuts: actually balancing the budget. But that would mean cuts that extend far enough to hurt the ownership class, so we can’t have that.)

This is not compromise, it is surrender. Once again. And again, and again, and again. I used to think the Democratic party was thrown off balance by the Reagan revolution, and hampered in its efforts to regain its balance by an unfortunate attachment to the pork-barrel politics they had enjoyed by being in power too long. Then I thought Democrats were whipped, confused as to how best to respond to the right-wing propaganda mill that blamed them for everything, unable to challenge lies because they’d somehow failed to gain any traction from truth in the past, unable to challenge imperial overreach for fear of being called “soft on crime/communism/terrorism/what-have-you.” It’s getting harder and harder to dismiss what once seemed the crazy-paranoia claim that the ongoing failures of the Democratic party are deliberate. We could have had this deal five months ago, without the distraction of an artificial crisis. Democrats made a show of putting up a fight, and took a dive. I just can’t for the life of me figure out why.

This is not good policy. It is not policy responsive to public opinion, whether that opinion is wise or foolish. It is not bad policy but good politics. It is not policy reflecting Democratic ideals. It is not policy reflecting a compromise between roughly balanced parties—a balance in which Dems are still supposed to have the edge, holding both White House and Senate. That kind of perpetual and inexplicable failure breeds paranoia.

I mean, what the fuck?!?

Postscript: Still in doubt as to who won this fight? Mitch McConnell is so pleased that he’s promising to do this again next year, and every year after that.

“What we have done, Larry, also is set a new template. In the future, any president, this one or another one, when they request us to raise the debt ceiling, it will not be clean anymore. This is just the first step. This, we anticipate, will take us into 2013. Whoever the new president is, is probably going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again. Then we will go through the process again.”

That’s what happens when you cede to hostage-takers’ demands. I say again, this agreement sets the precedent for holding the nation’s economy hostage to unrelated policy, and puts control in the hands of those crazy enough to destroy the country if they don’t get their way.

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