The core issue in this deal is the strategic vulnerability President Obama has exposed to progressive policies - delinking of entitlement reforms from revenue increase via tax reforms. As a result GOP is going to ‘strangle’ tax reforms for zero revenue increase whereas Dems would have already paid the price of entitlement reforms. With the success of debt ceiling increase through pure mindless spending cuts only, GOP will be nuts not to make it a clean slate by the end of 2012 to have tax reforms with zero increase in revenue. Talk about emboldening the very political forces which are ripping apart American fabric.
If there was a consensus in American Political system to use increase in tax revenues for investments like research, education and infrastructure; one could have accepted the entitlement reforms in itself. But in absence of any such consensus and GOP policy of willfully ‘starving America’ from her social investments; Dems had appropriate insistence in linking entitlement reforms with tax revenue increase. All that is gone and common Americans are holding now empty bags.
The issue is not that President and White House do not understand these problems. But their argument is they are not in a position to negotiate any of these things as they could barely make GOP accept the need to make two step process more sensible. It is true that avoiding two debt ceiling fights within few months is absolutely necessary, but at what ‘collateral damage’?
It seems that in the end, White House concluded that the price of playing hard ball with GOP - avoiding default but begin stopping Medicare and Social Security checks to increase the public pressure - is higher than making a stand at any time. This is because there is some thinking in this White House that; they would be still able to make some difference in lives of Americans in remaining months of this presidency. That is not true. For all practically purposes, this presidency is over in terms of an ability of White House to navigate anything meaningful through Congress. White House is delusional to think that GOP will help in anyways to do anything substantive for Americans.
Only when President and White House had understood, no matter what their ability to ‘make difference in lives of Americans’ has been fully nullified; it would have thought of putting a ‘break or make’ fight for revenue increase. Ezra Klein shows the optimism that if Dems remain united, they could take advantage of expiring Bush Tax Cuts. It is hard to believe that. Propensity of White House to ‘sale out progressive policies’ in order to make a deal with GOP makes it impossible to believe that this President would be tough and politically adroit enough in explaining to American public appropriateness of revenue increase. Given that, President Obama has completed the ‘sale out of progressive policies’. It is a sad end to the legacy of Ted Kennedy. Progressives will have to start picking up pieces of their policy agenda, in all probability discounting President Obama on their side. Time and again he has proven what is dispensable and what he prizes most - illusion of ‘political peace dividend’ by postponding the tough political debate with GOP. All these lofty speeches and impressive political game - those belie unwillingness to fight for well being of common Americans who had sent President Obama in White House in the first place.
In the end it is President Obama who has joined the ‘darker side’.