July 11, 2011

WHERE'S W WHEN WE NEED HIM?:

There’s a lot riding on the deficit showdown (Fred Hiatt, July 10, 2011, Washington Post)

[T]he Aug. 2 deadline offers three potential strategies. One is to join Nancy Pelosi and go for broke on “Mediscare”: Accuse the Republicans of getting ready to wheel every granny out of every nursing home and otherwise threaten civilization as we know it.

A second would be to end up with Mediscare but first appear open to compromise, to appeal to independents, while assuming there can be no grand bargain with Republicans.

The third is to go for something real: a long-term debt reduction plan that would increase revenue, begin to control entitlements without threatening granny and reassure financial markets that the American political system can get its act together when push comes to shove.

After this weekend, option three is looking like a longer shot than ever. It may be that Obama missed his moment to make it work, when he shunned his Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission. It may be that the Republicans and his own liberal caucus always were fatally inclined toward intransigence.

But it’s also true that the political path to a $2 trillion deal doesn’t look all that much clearer than to a $4 trillion deal. And the bigger bargain still offers the biggest payoff. It would most enhance Obama’s chances for reelection. By controlling the national debt, it would give him in a second term the most scope for the kind of action that is off-limits to him today.

And, oh, yes — it would be the best outcome for the country, too.


The problem is that whereas Bill Clinton and George W. Bush could reach big compromises with the opposition because the details mattered little so long as they got the structural reforms they were shooting for, the UR has no vision of reform that he's trying to enact. If he only he were trying to simplify the tax code or put SS and/or Medicare on firmer financial ground or fundamentally reposition our military posture, then he could ignore the details and compromises he finds distasteful. But, because he is fundamentally a status quo figure, he wants to get a deal done without changing any details, nevermind any structures.


Posted by at July 11, 2011 6:31 AM
  

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