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This won't be too long.

I don't see too many people around here openly admit that they are moderates.  I'm one of them.  I'm a moderate liberal, mind you (-1.25/-4.77, in case you were wondering), and someone who has long voted mainly for Democrats.  But if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to describe myself as a liberal, moderate, or conservative, I would say moderate.

This debt ceiling deal was, if you believe the papers, supposed to endear Obama to people like me.  I'm here to tell you that if that was the plan, it failed.

I, like most moderates, voted for Obama in 2008.  I did it with pride, and my GOP-leaning girlfriend (as of 2 months ago, my GOP-leaning fiancee) voted for him too, after quite a few arm-twisting sessions from me.  I did it because I thought that after a decade of watching the GOP beat Democrats into submission on major policy issues, Obama would be able to find a way to pull an LBJ - push a progressive agenda to counterbalance the conservative noise machine, resulting in moderate progressive policies.

This looked like a golden opportunity for Obama to live up to the hopes I had for him.  The debt crisis has been a big winner for Democrats and a big loser for Republicans.  For a couple weeks, the media narrative actually was focusing on the intransigence of Cantor, Norquist, and Congressional Republicans.  Polls showed that the public did not want an all-spending-cuts package.  Polls showed that they blamed Republicans for the impasse more than Democrats generally and Obama in particular.  Reasonable mainstream media outlets agreed, some even laying the entire blame for the impasse at the feet of Republicans.

But somehow, Obama managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The final deal looked absolutely nothing like the proposal that Obama made 2 weeks ago.  You know, the one that included 83% spending cuts and 17% tax increases (i.e., not exactly a progressive package to begin with).  Nope.  This one was 100% spending cuts.  $2.4 trillion of them - $900 billion now, $1.5 trillion later.  And not one damned dime of revenue increases.  Shared sacrifice my ass.  The burden from this bill falls entirely on the backs of the middle class and poor.

I know, I know.  The $1.5 trillion in additional spending cuts won't happen if the Super Congress can both a) agree on a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package; and b) get that through Congress.  But that will never happen.  The Republicans will undermine the work of Super Congress at every corner, and refuse to agree to any package that goes within 10 light years of their sacred cows.  Then, even if the Super Congress somehow does produce a recommendation that includes a few token revenue increases, Congressional Republicans will vote it down in the House and/or filibuster it in the Senate.  Either way, there WILL be another $1.5 trillion in cuts.  Education, the environment, health care, scientific research, transportation - all will take a hit.  It will get worse.

Obama had cards to play - the Constitutional option as a practical matter and, you know, public support for his positions as a PR matter.  But after Boehner walked out of the White House negotiations, Obama seemed to disappear.  Sitting on the sidelines and telling Congress "you guys handle it" is not pragmatic.  It's capitulation.

(I suppose the only consolation is that Obama will be able to score some PR points after the "Commission" fails to move the ball even a yard down the field for progressives.  Whoop de do.)

This deal isn't moderate.  It's not even center/right.  It's a right wing, conservative GOP wet dream.  $2.4 trillion in spending cuts, and the only "concession" is that we don't default on our debt.  And even THAT is a hollow victory since S&P made clear that without $4 trillion or more in deficit reduction, we might get downgraded anyway.

I'll vote for Obama in 2012 because the alternative is even worse still.  But he didn't score any points with me on this deal.

So if this deal was supposed to endear me to Obama, mission not accomplished.

Originally posted to Matisyahu on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Yes We Can Pragmatists.

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