Saturday, October 29, 2011

The left's doom-and-gloomers

I've been writing about how the debt ceiling deal will become a prominent part of the discussion in the coming months leading up to the 2012 election. With the leak this week of both the Democratic and Republican plans put forward by members of the Super Committee, the whole issue is getting some attention on the blogs and in the MSM.

Today Michael Tomsasky weighs in with what I consider to be typical leftist doom-and-gloom. He affirms what most people think - the Super Committee will fail to come to an agreement by their deadline on Thanksgiving. And then he focuses on the triggers - cuts to both discretionary spending and defense that will kick in January 1, 2013 if a deal is not reached.

The Republicans will, as John McCain and others have suggested, turn up the heat on the question of defense cuts. They will introduce legislation to exempt the Pentagon from cuts...

So they’ll advance a bill saying: cuts to domestic social programs, sure; cuts to Pentagon, nyet. It will pass the House. It will go to the Senate, and all the Republicans will be for it, and they’ll need 13 Democrats. So then the questions will be: will the Democrats be willing to hold the line and risk the silly accusation of being “soft on defense”? And will the White House also hold the line—bucking, of course, its own defense secretary, who agrees with the Republican position? I think we know the answer.

So the Republicans will have killed another deal with their indefensible and immoral position on taxes, and then, having stuffed that carcass in the trunk, they will retroactively work to kill the deal they agreed to last summer, and spend December demagoguing about how Democrats are going to leave America defenseless and throw hundreds of thousands of poor aeronautical engineers into the streets.

Hmmm...I think Mr. Tomasky is forgetting a few important details.

First, this will all be happening right in the middle of a presidential election when everyone will be paying attention to politics in a way that usually is not the case. There's been enough polling lately on these issues to demonstrate where the American public stands on these issues.

We all know that legislative bodies never act until the last minute - and in this case, the last minute is not until January 1st. Whether or not the Republicans will want to vote on this kind of thing prior to the lame duck Congress or afterwards will be an interesting thing to watch. If they wait until afterwards, they'll either be dealing with a lame duck President (I don't want to go there!) with nothing to lose or one who has recently been re-elected to his second and final term. I'm not sure they'd be happy with the outcome of either scenario.

Secondly, taking this discussion up prior to the election will step ALL OVER their message about the importance of austerity. With their insistence on no taxes added to promoting defense spending, they'll have trouble making the case that the country is going to slide into oblivion if we don't tackle the deficit. Yesterday I talked about how its also likely to require them to make the case that government spending cuts (on defense) DO hurt the economy.

But the final issue Tomasky forgot is the game-changer that negates his argument. That's the one about another issue the Republicans will need to address by January 1, 2013...the Bush tax cuts. Remember that when they were extended, it was only for 2 years and they're set to expire the same day the triggers go into effect. So not only will the Republicans have to get bills through Congress in 2012 to get rid of the defense cuts, they'll also need legislation to extend the tax cuts. President Obama made it clear in the debt ceiling deal that if a balanced approach was not reached, he would veto them.

This will raise an entirely different scenario than the one's we've watched play out so far with the "party of no" Republicans. This time it will be them who will need to proactively pass legislation rather than sit back and obstruct. They'll be pushing restoration of funds for defense and tax cuts for the wealthy. And all that will be happening right around the 2012 election.

One other possible scenario is that the Republicans could bank on winning the Presidency and gaining control of Congress in the election - then simply wait until 2013 to pass this kind of legislation retroactively. But I doubt they'll be willing to take that risk.

Wake up doom-and-gloomers...this one is going to be fun to watch!


  1. I am so grateful to you for this. Thanks for the links back to your earlier articles on this topic. I needed the refresher. Yes, it is going to be very fun to watch. I'm so ready for the GOP austerity message to bite them in the backside.

  2. Hi SP
    I so thoroughly enjoy following your conversation re: debt agreement! I did not get the contours of the agreement until you explained it. More than that, you have continued to flesh out the issues and provide brilliant analysis-well to me anyway!

    PS Listening to Eva today & waiting for the snow.


Why Republicans No Longer Believe in Democracy

Seven years ago I was asked to write a review of Zachary Roth's book, "The Great Suppression." More than anything I'd rea...