I’m hopeful that the future won’t be quite the disaster that Paul Krugman predicts with his chronic and pessimistic Obama-bashing, but still I agree more with Krugman than anyone who says this budget deal was a win for the Democrats or for the American people.
For one thing, I’m not ready to cheer just because much of the cuts will be from the military. The idea that cuts in the military balance out cuts in education, health services, and other programs is just plain false and perpetuates the myth that Democrats don’t like the military and that it’s somehow a win for them if the military is defunded. Despite all the talk about supporting the troops, Republicans have proven more willing to start wars then to provide the men and women who fight them with adequate supplies and numbers. And the Tea Party, crazy as they are, seem to be the only people in town who realize the military is part of the government. So they’re just as happy about our weakened defenses as they are about our crumbling infrastructure.
In the near future, there will be economic ups and economic downs. Partisans on each side will take credit for the good and blame others for the bad, and nobody will know for sure how different things would have been if their own side had won more. But important government programs have been cut, and It seems pretty clear to me that our military will be weaker, our infrastructure will suffer, we will loose ground in the technology race, fewer of our children will be adequately educated, and jobs that would have been created by the effort to avoid all of these pitfalls will not exist.
Furthermore, when the threat of cross-the-board cuts, including cuts to the military looms over the bi-partisan negotiating team, the Democrats will be at a disadvantage because they will not be as willing to cut off vital supplies for our fighting men and women as the Republicans will be to allow cuts in children’s health care, education, and other investments in our nation’s future.
So I agree with Paul Krugman’s stance that this hasn’t really been a win for liberals. Where I depart from Paul Krugman’s thinking is on blaming Obama and the Democrats for being too weak. Instead, I agree with Al Frankin:
Unfortunately, in a game of chicken, the player most concerned about protecting the full faith and credit of the United States is put in the most difficult position.
So I have to disagree with Deaniac’s assertion that Obama “ate Boehner’s Lunch”, but, as Daniel Markovits more realistically explains, the Democrats came away with a much better deal than a “rational observer would have predicted”, considering the risks Republicans were willing to take with the nation’s economy in order to get what they wanted.
Rather than accusing Democrats of being weak, we need to make them stronger. It’s our job to ensure Republicans don’t have the power to get want they want through threats rather than fair negotiations.
This debt deal wasn’t the result of a Democratic president with a fighting chance caving in to empty threats. This was a Democratic president facing down an opposition willing and able to put our economy in jeopardy unless their demands are met, and actually coming away with a surprisingly acceptable deal, even if it shouldn’t be called a “win”. We should praise Obama’s negotiating skills, not criticize him for giving too much away.