Monday, August 1, 2011

And So the Deal Was Struck

It's bad. Real bad.

The press release from the White House, laying out the specifics of the deal with each detail spun to sound like this it isn't a complete garbage nightmare, is titled: "BIPARTISAN DEBT DEAL: A WIN FOR THE ECONOMY AND BUDGET DISCIPLINE." Well. At least the President didn't have the audacity to claim it's a win for the American people.

(I won't bother reposting it since it's already posted in a million other places; DKos has posted it here.)

The Wall Street Journal calls the deal a Tea Party Triumph, although Tea Party Terrorism Aided and Abetted by Spineless Congressional Democrats and a Ostensibly Democratic President Who Is Really a Moderate Republican would be more accurate.

The New York Times calls it, simply, a Terrible Deal: "There is little to like about the tentative agreement between Congressional leaders and the White House except that it happened at all. The deal would avert a catastrophic government default, immediately and probably through the end of 2012. The rest of it is a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists. It will hurt programs for the middle class and poor, and hinder an economic recovery."

Krugman explains how the deal "will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America's long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status."

Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is very unhappy. Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the CPC, released a statement as the details of the deal were emerging yesterday:
This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it. Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage.

This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it.

Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands. Progressives have been rallying support for the successful government programs that have meant health and economic security to generations of our people.

Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus. We have made our bottom line clear for months: a final deal must strike a balance between cuts and revenue, and must not put all the burden on the working people of this country. This deal fails those tests and many more. The Democratic Party, no less than the Republican Party, is at a very serious crossroads at this moment.

For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government – a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want. While I believe the country will not reward them for this in the long run, the damage has already been done.

A clean debt ceiling vote was the obvious way out of this, and many House Democrats have been saying so. Had that vote failed, the president should have exercised his Fourteenth Amendment responsibilities and ended this manufactured crisis. This deal is a cure as bad as the disease. I reject it, and the American people reject it. The only thing left to do now is repair the damage as soon as possible.
Other progressive groups are responding with resounding contempt as well.

It's probably too much for which to hope that progressive Democrats in the House will be able to tank this thing, but, last night, Pelosi would not commit her support to the bill: "We all may not be able to support it, or none us may be able to support it."

So there is still a glimmer of hope, but, realistically, it's probably the glimmer of fool's gold, since we've got a Democratic president up for reelection who is INEXPLICABLY FUCKING DETERMINED to capitulate to Republicans and ruin the country in order that he might appear reasonable.

Below the fold (on most browsers), the President's remarks last night on the deal.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
July 31, 2011

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
8:40 P.M. EDT


THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. There are still some very important votes to be taken by members of Congress, but I want to announce that the leaders of both parties, in both chambers, have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default -- a default that would have had a devastating effect on our economy.

The first part of this agreement will cut about $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years -- cuts that both parties had agreed to early on in this process. The result would be the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was President -- but at a level that still allows us to make job-creating investments in things like education and research. We also made sure that these cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on a fragile economy.

Now, I've said from the beginning that the ultimate solution to our deficit problem must be balanced. Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations.

That's why the second part of this agreement is so important. It establishes a bipartisan committee of Congress to report back by November with a proposal to further reduce the deficit, which will then be put before the entire Congress for an up or down vote. In this stage, everything will be on the table. To hold us all accountable for making these reforms, tough cuts that both parties would find objectionable would automatically go into effect if we don’t act. And over the next few months, I’ll continue to make a detailed case to these lawmakers about why I believe a balanced approach is necessary to finish the job.

Now, is this the deal I would have preferred? No. I believe that we could have made the tough choices required -- on entitlement reform and tax reform -- right now, rather than through a special congressional committee process. But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need, and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year.

Most importantly, it will allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America. It ensures also that we will not face this same kind of crisis again in six months, or eight months, or 12 months. And it will begin to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy.

Now, this process has been messy; it’s taken far too long. I've been concerned about the impact that it has had on business confidence and consumer confidence and the economy as a whole over the last month. Nevertheless, ultimately, the leaders of both parties have found their way toward compromise. And I want to thank them for that.

Most of all, I want to thank the American people. It’s been your voices -- your letters, your emails, your tweets, your phone calls -- that have compelled Washington to act in the final days. And the American people's voice is a very, very powerful thing.

We’re not done yet. I want to urge members of both parties to do the right thing and support this deal with your votes over the next few days. It will allow us to avoid default. It will allow us to pay our bills. It will allow us to start reducing our deficit in a responsible way. And it will allow us to turn to the very important business of doing everything we can to create jobs, boost wages, and grow this economy faster than it's currently growing.

That’s what the American people sent us here to do, and that’s what we should be devoting all of our time to accomplishing in the months ahead.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
8:44 P.M. EDT