April 5, 2011


Why Democrats Lost the Budget Fight: It may be tough to counter Republicans' uncompromising strategy on the budget, but Democrats sowed their own defeat long ago. (David Dayen, April 4, 2011 , American Prospect)

But if you want to fault Democrats and President Barack Obama for their negotiating, you have to go back further. The seeds of this defeat were planted in December, when the president negotiated a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts; in practice, this meant any reduction in the 2011 deficit would have to come from cutting domestic spending. At the time, Democrats held large majorities in both houses of Congress, but talks on a 2011 continuing resolution collapsed because Republicans knew they could just wait a month and take the majority in the House, changing the dynamic of the negotiations. In December, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee told MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, "I think it would be a big mistake if we pass the tax deal, and then we were to immediately try to reverse it, but I don't think the president would go along to that." Yet that's exactly what's happening. Democrats knew that Republicans campaigned on an immediate $100 billion budget cut, and then gave them the opportunity to enact it.

But there's more to this. For a long time, conservatives' long game has been to "starve the beast," depleting government tax revenue through an endless series of tax cuts and opposition to any increases, and then to point to the lack of revenue as the reason to cut spending. The December deal, with $800 billion in tax cuts spread over two years, was the textbook move in this conservative game.

Posted by at April 5, 2011 6:34 AM

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