31 July 2011

Hope & Change, My Keester

The Republicans got just about everything they asked for in the "compromise" debt deal. Of course, they didn't get a guaranteed vote on a balanced budget amendment. But that was a joke to begin with - just something they could "compromise" on when the chips were down. Here is the summary of the deal* circulating in the press this evening:
  • The president will be authorized to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for another increase until 2013.
  • The first tranche of cuts will come in at nearly $1 trillion. That includes savings of $350 billion from the Base Defense Budget, which will be trimmed based off a review of overall U.S. national security policy.
  • A bipartisan committee with enhanced procedural authority will be responsible for pinpointing $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction from both entitlements and tax reform, as well as other spending programs.
  • The committee will have to report out legislation by November 23, 2011.
  • Congress will be required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011.
  • The trigger mechanism -- should the committee's recommendations not be acted upon -- will be mandatory spending cuts. Those cuts, which will begin in January 2013, will be split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries and "low-income programs" would be exempted from those cuts.
Note first that this is a deal based solely on electoral politics. It postpones further discussion until Obama's second term (should there be one). And it postpones most of the cuts - certain to make the ongoing depression deeper, wider and more persistent - until such time as Obama has no electoral future for the disaster to impact. So much for the "change" Barack.

Note second, that social security and medicare and "low income programs" are not exempted from the negotiations about the second round of cuts. Note too that this hardly is the 'balanced' approach (spending cuts coupled with tax increases) that Obama claimed was essential and that, according to all sorts of polls, most Americans support. And note, finally, that the "defense" cuts are illusory given that Obama is slowly winding down BushCo's overseas adventures. No pain there. But no hope in this feature of the deal.

Finally, note that "bipartisan committee with enhanced procedural authority" is a euphemism for a decision-making procedure drained of what scant democratic accountability characterizes politics in DC these days. Talk about cleaning up the mess in Washington! What we need is not less democracy, but more - democracy aimed at protecting and promoting the interests of regular Americans. The electorate knows that. And they know too, that the vast majority of Democratic elected officials care not one whit for their interests.
* I lifted this list verbatim from a report at Huffington Post. no permalink available.

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