Jared Bernstein puts his finger on what the long-term damage
from this debt-ceiling debacle is likely to be.
If too many Americans don’t believe in or understand what government does to help them, to offset recessions, to protect their security in retirement and in hard times, to maintain the infrastructure, to provide educational opportunities and health care decent enough to offset the disadvantages so many are born with…if those functions are unknown, underfunded, and/or carried out poorly, why should they care about how much this deal or the next one cuts?
Those of us who do care about the above will not defeat those who strive to get rid of it all by becoming better tacticians. We will only find success when a majority of Americans agrees with us that government is something worth fighting for.
It's a vicious circle. As we've seen, the cuts that are to come will mean less spending on infrastructure, on education, on health and safety enforcement, on all the things government is supposed to do in return for the investment we make with our tax dollars.
How you convince a majority of Americans that government is worth fighting for is, first and foremost, making government worth fighting for, making it work for all of the regular people. That won't happen without revenue. That won't happen with indiscriminate slashing and burning of domestic programs. It won't happen by following the tea party's lead of starving the beast.
It's that fight—the fight over the key, foundational ethos of the Democratic party being the party of good government, of the common good—that's been ceded in this deal. It was ceded when President Obama and congressional Democrats bought into the narrative that what the nation needed was a good dose of austerity, austerity that will hamstring all the good that government could do.