Monday, June 4, 2012

The Democrats "caved" meme anyone noticing?

Amid all of our obsession with the current campaign, some folks might remember that this time a year ago the big political news was that the Republicans were threatening a worldwide economic collapse by refusing to raise the debt ceiling if their demands for spending cuts weren't met. After weeks of negotiations in which President Obama attempted to reach a Grand Bargain including both spending cuts and tax increases, the Republicans agreed to punt the decision to a Super Committee along with triggers if they weren't successful.

Speaker John Boehner said he'd gotten 98% of what he wanted in the deal so the Republicans rejoiced and the poutragers wrung their hands about what they perceived as yet another Democratic cave.

The Super Committee failed and now those triggers are set to go into effect in 7 months - two months after the election. They include $600 billion in cuts to defense spending over 10 years. Not necessarily included in the debt ceiling deal, but also at play here, is the fact that the Bush tax cuts are also set to expire on the same day.

One of the problems with our political analysis is that we tend to follow the big stories during a crisis (like the negotiations over the debt ceiling deal), but fail to follow them to the end. This one isn't turning out like the Republicans or the poutragers initially predicted. As long as everyone keeps that quiet, no one has to deal with their mistaken assumptions/predictions.

But here's the news...the Republicans are showing signs of being willing to negotiate on tax increases in order to save the defense cuts.
In fact, no one knows what “sequestration,” the term for the automatic cuts, will look like, not lawmakers, not the military. But Republicans who helped create it as a bludgeon to force a bipartisan budget accord are now desperate to undo it. Indeed, some of the loudest advocates for blocking the cuts — like Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee — voted to create them; 28 Senate Republicans and 174 House Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act, overwhelming the opposition.

But the threat they created may be doing its job. Mr. Graham is openly talking about revenue increases to offset the costs. Even South Carolina’s ardently conservative House members, Mick Mulvaney, Joe Wilson and Jeff Duncan, said last week that they were ready to talk...

For now, Democrats and Republicans are waiting for the other side to blink. And the pressure may be working...

Asked about the “no new taxes” pledge almost all Republicans have signed, he [Graham] shrugged: “I’ve crossed the Rubicon on that.”
So Senator Graham has "crossed the Rubicon" on tax increases. Remember, this is the guy who represents the VERY red state of South Carolina. If he can cross that line, I expect he can also take a few others with him.

Six months ago, here's what I wrote about this deal.
What President Obama and the Democrats did with this deal was to not only rescue the hostage of the global economy, but completely change the dynamics of negotiations to give themselves all the leverage. With the looming defense cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, they will be the one's who can walk away from the table if their demands aren't met. As I've said before, Republicans have been stripped of their ability to simply obstruct and will have to proactively work to get something done.
That leverage is now starting to pay off.  Senator Graham (and some others) are willing to deal. We'll see if any of those who assumed the whole mantra about Democrats "caving" will notice.

So now with a hat/tip to xpostfactoid for finding this story, I'll send you back to your regularly scheduled programming on the 2012 election...


  1. The hard-core poutrager can find a way to paint any victory as a defeat. If the Democrats settle for anything less than 100% of what they want -- inevitable in any negotiation -- that will be "caving".

    But sensible people will know better. And the Republicans have their own version of "poutragers" who will scream high treason at Graham's and others' Rubicon-crossing.

  2. Thanks so much for bringing this up. We do forget about a story too quickly and in this case miss the progress that is being made. I really appreciate your blog.

  3. I can't get over how brillaintly the President played this.

  4. What's really troubling about all of this is that the revenue is a 4% increase on one tax bracket. A big number of red districts are dependent on defense spending so I don't know why they agreed to put those cuts on the table. They couldn't have been dense enough to believe that supercommittee was going to work. The dems might be able to get more than 4% now.

    On another note poutragers are a gang of dilettantes that should find something new to take their interests.