Whiners in both parties are so stuck in gear they can’t stop wailing long enough to see that this debt deal accomplishes so little that it isn’t worth shedding a single tear on the left or the right.
If anything, it’s the tea partiers who lost what they most wanted: Default. As a commentator on Daily Kos notes, “For them, this was not a hostage negotiation, they wanted to kill the hostage. In this they failed — totally.”
On the left, the main complaint is that tax cuts for the wealthy were not touched. But it’s important to remember that this fight started over the simple question of whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, the wrong place for putting all spending and taxation questions on the table. That’s what the budget process should be all about.
This debt ceiling battle has at least helped spotlight the tax issue. Polls show it paved the way for more Americans to support higher taxes for the rich and big business when the Bush cuts come up for review.
Social Security and Medicare are safe, in this bill at least. Defense spending is targeted, but worried hawks can take heart that, as in most of this package, it’s yet another elusive “cut” for the future.
Indeed, so many of the core arguments are postponed that the warring factions ought to just save their ammunition this week. It’s call for a study committee and spending-cut triggers are favorite Capitol Hill devices for satisfying current demand and ultimately doing nothing.
While my view is that President Obama won because he got what he most wanted, extending the debt ceiling long enough to avoid a do-over of this mess until after his reelection campaign, at the end of the day there are no real winners or losers on the big budget issues – because nothing much was really done.
Given how little actually takes immediate and full effect in this legislation and how much is kicked down the road, Congress could have just passed a clean debt ceiling increase months ago, avoiding this prolonged and pitiful distraction.