Terrorism and debt

Well, having just finished watched the movie “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” I feel it goes pretty well with the drama that was just more-or-less concluded in Washington DC. As in Pelham, this was a hostage crisis, with Republicans threatening the good name and credit rating of the United States. As The Philadelphia Inquirer made clear, the whole episode has left US creditors and allies very troubled. Unfortunately, President Obama seems to have these “Grand Bargain” fantasies where everybody gets something and gives up something and all parties ends up reasonably satisfied. Or perhaps Obama just might be a fan of the old Clintonian trick of “Triangulation,” a strategy whereby the President would stand between the left wing of his own party and Republicans and thereby appear to be the centrist, Third-Way “grown-up in the room.” It worked for the President, but greatly weakened the Democratic Party as a whole.

As an old peacenik buddy David Gibson puts it (David had a long-time relationship to the group Peace Action, a group that’s big in California and that has a significant chapter in New Jersey, but is next to unknown here in Philly), I cheerfully and wholeheartedly agree with him that the “People’s Budget” is a vastly superior alternative to anything that’s been discussed by either Obama’s “Cat Food Commission” or Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan “The Path to Prosperity,” that was voted on by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives (“No Dems voted for the measure; and only four Republicans jumped ship”). Alas, the People’s Budget was considered a minor also-ran that was worth little, if any, attention as far as the national press corps was concerned.

According to NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, the deal reached by President Obama and the Republicans/Tea Partiers is an unmitigated disaster.

Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

As the blogger Digby puts it:

The idea that they are even talking about this at a time of nearly 10% official unemployment with the economy looking like it’s going back into recession (if it ever left) makes this debate surreal and bizarre. To cut the safety net and shred discretionary spending in massive numbers at a time like this is mind boggling. That it’s happening under a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate is profoundly depressing.

A blogger for the Washington Monthly felt progressives were so down about the results, he rounded up people who saw the deal as something other than a complete disaster, but Daily Kos pours cold water all over his first example. Various people have tried to suggest that the Bush (Now the Obama) tax cuts will be eliminated at the end of 2012, but that appears to be very highly unlikely.

I really wish I could say something positive about the deal, but I’m afraid that Pelham had a much happier ending.

Updates:  Y’know, it’s always nice when people wake up to a realization (AFL-CIO also chimes in), but it’s kind of annoying when they realize something after close of business, like a few minutes after 5:00pm, after most everyone has left for the day.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has absolutely, positively no intention whatsoever of turning to the jobs issue. Why Obama thinks we’ve settled the spending issue and can now turn to jobs, I just don’t know.
Very disturbing photo, of the President signing the debt bill all by himself. Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to be associated with this bill.

Comments are closed.