Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The "Bipartisan Deals" No One Likes

It's been said that the hallmark of a good bipartisan compromise on legislation is that it irritates broad swaths of folks across the ideological spectrum. If that's the case, then we have a real winner in the budget deal President Obama made with Congressional Republicans... As well as the next deal about to be made on next year's budget and the debt ceiling!

From RedState:

It is becoming more and more clear that Republicans got played in the budget deal. Likewise, envirowackos have gone totally wild.

From National Review:

"Friday’s much-heralded budget deal is a pyrrhic victory for deficit hawks....Obama was able to preserve many, if not most, of his pet projects, like Pell Grants, Planned Parenthood funding, and Americorps. It’s not clear who should be licking their wounds today."

From Paul Krugman:

I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.
His remarks after last week’s budget deal were a case in point.

Maybe that terrible deal, in which Republicans ended up getting more than their opening bid, was the best he could achieve — although it looks from here as if the president’s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions...

And from Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:

Democrats once again fail Budget Negotiation 101. With the White House apparently at the very least flirting with the catfood commission (we need a Magic 8 Ball on this one, because just hours ago, the story was different), the House Dems have gone all in. [...]

Apparently, they're ignoring the advice of Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has argued that Democrts need to do what they did when Bush was trying to privatize Social Security in 1995: don't take the bait. The bait has been swallowed.

In rhetorically embracing the demonstrably right-wing catfood commission as the "reasonable" middle, even without endorsing all of its non-proposals, Dems start these upcoming negotiations having ceded important ideological ground from the get-go. Van Hollen did make some good points, according to this TPM story, including the fact that the non-report from the commission's chairs assumed that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would expire. The non-report also failed to address in any kind of substantive way the spending and cost drivers for Medicare and Medicaid—cost drivers for the entire federal budget—continuing rising health care costs. But it is nowhere near a progressive, even a traditional Democratic, plan.

It really underscores Obama's challenge tonight in presenting a "balanced approach" to balancing the budget. Even as he faces huge challenges abroad with Middle East unrest and continued fallout from Japan's huge earthquake and tsunami, the key challenge now really looks to be domestic. The teabaggers on the extreme right will be pleased by nothing (other than perhaps Obama being impeached on fictitious charges, then replaced by "President Donald Trump"), and now the left is becoming more vociferous in drawing a line in the sand. Meanwhile, folks from across the blogosphere keep yelling and screaming and taunting Obama as "weak".

It's interesting to see all these complaints now, and to see the glories of our dysfunctional system at work. Congress has to agree on a budget, but hardly anyone wants to make the tough choices and tougher compromises. And as the debt ceiling quickly approaches, some Republicans in Congress are enjoying flirting with total annihilation. Still, we need to recognize good policy and fight for it... And hopefully, Obama will do just that tonight.

Still, let this be a lesson learned (so far) that no one can get everything one wants with a divided government.

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