The upside, if any, of the proposed "Grand Bargain" budget is that it has been rejected by Republicans already and Democrats, if they are smart, will do so also.
It may have the negative effect of defining the "middle" as something between the Obama budget and the Ryan budget, but, fortunately, most Americans have tuned out Washington DC politics and the pundits. Most people are sick and tired of Washington. The ideological rage seen here and its mirror seen on redstate or among FoxNews watchers is a marginal view. That lack of engagement among many may actually be good, for if the middle moves rightward but no one notices except pundits, nothing really happened. If a pundit opines in a forest and no one hears it, it matters not.
Some progressive pundits have opined that the motivation of this proposal is to move certain pundits and DC opinion-makers (the "very serious people") to exclaim that Obama compromised and Republicans refuse to do so. This supposedly will increase pressure on Republicans to accept the proposed Grand Bargain and end the deadlock eventually.
So what’s this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he’s willing to do what they consider Serious — which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he’s reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.Since most pundits and "very serious people" will not be happy until the old and poor (except for servants) are set on melting ice floes and pushed out to sea, Krugman's predication that the strategy won't work anyway probably is right.
But it won’t happen. Watch the Washington Post editorial page over the next few days. I hereby predict that it will damn Obama with faint praise, saying that while it’s a small step in the right direction, of course it’s inadequate — and anyway, Obama is to blame for Republican intransigence, because he could make them accept a Grand Bargain that includes major revenue increases if only he would show Leadership (TM).
Jonathan Chait generally concurs:
For the strategy to really succeed, the BipartisanThinkers have to help persuade Senate Republicans to strike a deal, and then somehow get John Boehner to secretly agree with it and let it come to a vote in the House, even if almost all the House Republicans naturally vote against it. The fallback option is that the BipartisanThinkers stop blaming both sides and start blaming Republicans, though this seems like an extremely forlorn hope — more likely, the BipartisanThinkers will eventually redefine Obama’s compromise position as Big Government liberalism and the center as the halfway point between that and Paul Ryan’s plan to kill and eat the poor.I suspect Chait is right. Obama's position will be defined as the "left wing" position by "very serious people."
That would be bad if people were listening, but I think many tuned out a long time ago. We'll see if AARP is just an insurance company or they can deliver an NRA-style fear into Congress critters.
I think progressives should contact Dem senators and representaitves to urge them not to support the proposal on chained cpi. The mere act of pressure might show there is a left and President Obama's proposal is not it.
My hope is that Dems rebel, Republicans reject, and most people never buy into moving the middle to the right.
No one has yet convinced me that the proposed Grand Bargain is better (or less worse) than the Sequester overall. A Democratic president cutting social security with the aid of Congress probably is more harmful than the pain caused by the Sequester.
Since 2009, we have had as much or more austerity as we have had stimulus. That is why we have a recovery, but a very weak one.