Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Over (At Least for Now)

At long last, the charade is coming to an end. Why? Do you really need me to tell you?

“There is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice, where everybody contributes in a very challenging time for our country,” [Senator Patty] Murray [D-WA, Co-chair of Budget Supercommittee] told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.”

“That’s the Bush tax cuts, and making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table and the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over a million dollars every year, have to share, too. And that line in the sand, we haven’t seen any Republicans willing to cross yet,” Murray said.

Surprise, the Supercommittee is now virtually guaranteed to collapse... And do so entirely because Republicans refused to budge on asking the wealthiest of Americans to share in the sacrifice.

However, the super-wealthy will eventually have to share in the sacrifice despite... Or perhaps, BECAUSE of what's about to happen to the Supercommittee. Remember when the G-O-TEA leadership gloated over getting "98%" of what they wanted? Well, that's blowing back at them awfully hard.

But how did the president even get to have this leverage? I hate to sound like a broken record, but he made the Republicans in Congress hand him this leverage on a silver platter while John Boehner was too busy dancing around saying how he got 98% of what he wanted from the debt limit deal (and Markos Moulitsas was lapping John Boehner's words right up). The debt limit deal's automatic cuts in defense and Medicare provider and insurance company payments, while taking off the table Medicare benefits, social security and other programs for the needy, put the Republicans in a rut. And for once, Congressional Democrats seem to be playing their hands right on this one. Pelosi, Reid and other Democrats have signaled that if the Republicans don't cave on taxing the rich, they will block GOP attempts to spare the defense industry from the cuts. [...]

That's leverage. While everyone thought that the president "caved" during the debt deal by not getting any revenue raisers up front, those who actually read and studied the damn thing saw this day coming clear as daylight. And don't think for a second that the White House is not behind this newfound resistance on the Democratic side against the GOP attempts to restore the Defense spending that would be cut if the supercommittee fails.

Why? Because President Obama and Leaders Reid and Pelosi fundamentally understand what the Republicans are actually trying to do here: they know they handed the leverage to the President and Democrats on a silver platter, and this attempt to restore the Defense spending is in reality an attempt to nullify that leverage and instead gain an upper hand as the leverage goes to the domestic spending side (advantage GOP). That's why the Democrats are not about to let it happen.

Now was this a total success for progressives? I wouldn't necessarily go that far. We still must endure even more cuts in public investment that are counter-productive during times of recession and recovery. However, the very worst case scenario (which would have been Medicare & Social Security cuts while allowing the Bush tax rates to stay in place) was avoided. And instead, we'll mostly see cuts that won't be nearly as hurtful (like the military spending cuts that some GOP politicians fear the most).

As I warned back in early August, the G-O-TEA crowd were gearing for full "Californication" of the country by holding the full faith and credit of America hostage. But in their zeal for hostage taking and big talking, they managed to allow President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders to grab a handy Ace in the hole. And while Democrats may not end up with a Royal Flush, our high cards definitely win over their pile of junk.

Why do you think certain Congress critters are now huffing and puffing over the BBA? And why do you think the G-O-TEA Clown Car candidates are doubling down on destroying Medicare and Social Security? They know they are in deep trouble as the Supercommittee is set to implode this week. And once it's over, we'll have a chance next year to have real dialogue on real solutions to the economic problems we face.

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