Everyone’s talking about how brilliant the new Bloomberg Businessweek cover is.
Photo: Bloomberg Businessweek
We can understand why after the Fiscal Cliff nonsense (and imminent Debt Ceiling nonsense-on-stilts) this kind of cover appeals to people.
But in reality, it’s inaccurate to depict the Congress as being all babies.
A lot of Congressmen on both sides of the aisle are adults trying to make deals, and look out for the interests of their constituents.
That being said, there is a pretty sizable faction of Fiscal Fanatics that thinks it’s beneficial to go to the edge of a government shutdown/default. And they think that unless they get 100% of want they want, then they’ve done a complete sellout. Baby mentality. After all, the Fiscal Cliff deal preserved the Bush tax cuts for virtually all Americans, and yet most of the GOP in the House couldn’t vote for it.
A number of folks in the media seem to get that there’s something reckless about the Default Caucus of the GOP, but since they strive so hard for balance, they have to attack Obama for something too, and so they usually point to his lack of spending cuts.
A good example of that is the lead piece in POLITICO today about “Obama’s debt problem,” which paints the debt as a big Obama’s failure:
The staggering national debt — up about 60 per cent from the $10 trillion Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009 — is the single biggest blemish on Obama’s record, even if the rapid descent into red began under President George W. Bush.
Actually, the fact that unemployment is barely below 8% is the real Obama failure, much bigger than the deficit.
It goes on to talk about how ‘opaque’ Obama has been in terms of what spending he would cut, and how there’s a looming day of entitlement reckoning:
During the cliff talks, Obama was purposely opaque about what cuts he’d ultimately accept, saying only that Republican resistance to a one-shot grand bargain meant he needed to make a deal in pieces — taxes first, spending second.
That tactic delayed but didn’t eliminate a looming day of reckoning on spending and entitlements that will come within 60 days thanks to the convergence of the debt ceiling deadline and the new deadline for keeping automatic cuts from kicking in.
The truth of the matter is that Obama has done more than the GOP in terms of trying to come to grips with entitlement spending.
The Washington Post reported last night that Obama had infuriated Democrats by agreeing a couple of weeks ago to adopt a “Chained CPI” (a change that would reduce annual increases in Social Security benefits). But the final day of the fiscal cliff fight, Republicans were attacking Obama for being open to this cut.
The GOP has a hard time saying yes to a Grand Bargain.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post notes that the media is already getting rolled by the GOP on the debt ceiling fight, by buying into their view of it.
He notes three things that everybody needs to know, but which the media rarely reports:
1) Republican leaders will ultimately agree to raise the debt ceiling, and they know it, because they themselves have previously admitted that not doing so will badly damage the economy.
2) Because of the above, a hike in the debt ceiling is not something that Democratic leaders want and that Republican leaders don’t. In other words, it is not a typical bargaining chip in negotiations, in the way spending cuts (which Republicans want and Dems don’t) or tax hikes (which Dems want and Republicans don’t) are.
3) And so, if and when Republicans do agree to raise the debt ceiling, it will not constitute any kind of concession on their part — even though they will continue to portray it as such to demand concessions in return. It will only constitute Republicans agreeing not to damage the whole country, which does not constitute (one hopes) them making a sacrifice.
This last part is a key thing. Raising the debt ceiling isn’t a concession, unless you think that the GOP actually wants to damage the economy. But the media helpfully gives into the frame.
Most Congressmen aren’t babies. Some are.
In 2013, let’s get rid of the “pox on both their houses” way of looking at things.
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