A deal to raise the federal debt ceiling is in the works. If it goes through, many commentators will declare that disaster was avoided. But they will be wrong. …
Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.
It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.
In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.
Holy hyperbole, Batman!
Update, clear light of morning: I’m still not overly thrilled with the debt ceiling deal — it’s about what I expected it to be. Possibly a bit larger than I thought.
But if it’s attracting this kind of caterwauling on the left, it can’t be that bad…
So says the Red Star:
Copps may be the most high-profile example of a new phenomenon in the Liberal party since the stunning May 2 election defeat — disaffected members returning to the fold.
With everyone from pundits to Prime Minister Stephen Harper writing obituaries for the Liberal party, many long-time party members are reportedly shaking off their torpor and old grudges to help save the Liberals from extinction.
“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you climb up and there’s a lot of people who’ve been sitting on the sidelines, like myself . . . who are saying now is the time to step up and reinvigorate,” Copps said. “There are lots of people like that.”
Interim leader Bob Rae reported last month that there had actually been a surge in new memberships since the May election.
As well, each week brings reports of small but new pockets of Liberal-revival activity: meetings to plot policy renewal, talks around forming a new Liberal think-tank and plans for more aggressive membership recruiting.
I wouldn’t be stunned.
This is why, again, I see no united left on the horizon for 2015.
I do expect a unified left for 2019, however, if Harper can pull off a second majority.
Update: Here’s the PowerPoint about the agreement that Boehner’s going to roll out at the next Republican caucus meeting. The deal is just what we thought it would be this morning, but note how Boehner’s framing it explicitly as a version of Cut, Cap, and Balance. The key detail on across-the-board cuts, which will go into effect if Congress ends up rejecting the Super Commission’s recommendations:
Total reductions would be equally split between defense and non-defense programs. Across-the-board cuts would also apply to Medicare. Other programs, including Social Security, Medicaid, veterans, and civil & military pay, would be exempt.
So they settled on a 50/50 split after all between defense cuts and other discretionary spending. That was Reid’s price in exchange for dropping tax hikes as an automatic trigger.
It seems… acceptable.
@daveweigel: “RT @LukeRussert: When Boehner left the Capitol tonight, he leaned against the elevator wall tilted his head back, exhaled and went “ahhhhh.”"
@IMAO_: “I hope we don’t get a RINO president in 2012, because I’m afraid he won’t cave to conservatives as much as Obama. #gloating”
@jpodhoretz: “Horns of a dilemma for Satan sandwich haters in the House: if House Dems refuse to vote for the deal, they destroy the Obama presidency.”
Okay, this is sounding pretty darned good.
And it is what I expected: a negotiated settlement including a debt ceiling rise, some spending cuts, and no tax hikes.
Well, we’ll see how it plays out. There’s still time for it to crash and burn.
… to this piece.
1. Frankly, yes — I do hope and believe that there would be a similar reaction if another major political leader were so stricken. Because the Canadian political class is comprised of people who, differences in philosophy notwithstanding, are fundamentally decent.
2. Yes, the NDP is here to stay, and if it plays its cards right over the next parliament, it most certainly can be one of the big two parties and challenge for (and win!) government. And yes, that is a threat to business — and to prosperity for Canadians overall.
3. Well, if you really want to re-litigate it now, when someone is found naked in a notorious rub-and-tug, most of us do know what conclusions to draw. But we’re also generally mature enough to have it not really colour our views on which person we want to put in public office — there’s a general understanding that we’re all human, and we fall short from time to time of what we ought to be. Canadians are a forgiving lot, if the subject seems sympathetic enough otherwise. (Incidentally, that story had been shopped in previous elections by Liberal operatives, not Conservatives, and it’s pretty clear whom it was meant to help. But that’s by the bye.)
Anyway. I expect that the socialist threat remains, and that there will be a somewhat tough conversation over the next few years about the proper direction of public policy in Canada. This will be an improvement over the last few years, in which a politics of small differences and loud noises took over.
When the differences are large, as they were in the 1980s, the political discourse becomes much easier to take. And I look forward to having that discussion with my (mistaken) socialist fellow Canadians. (Incidentally, that the NDP folks call each other “brother” and “sister” — that’s quite endearing.)
PRINCETON, NJ — President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval.
But that actually is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about something that started to become apparent to me during the debt negotiations. It’s something I’ve never seen in national politics.
It is that nobody loves Obama. This is amazing because every president has people who love him, who feel deep personal affection or connection, who have a stubborn, even beautiful refusal to let what they know are just criticisms affect their feelings of regard. At the height of Bill Clinton’s troubles there were always people who’d say, “Look, I love the guy.” They’d often be smiling—a wry smile, a shrugging smile. Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama. There were people who loved George W. Bush when he was at his most unpopular, and they meant it and would say it. But people aren’t that way about Mr. Obama. He has supporters and bundlers and contributors, he has voters, he may win. But his support is grim support. And surely this has implications. …
And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn’t serious, he was only shrewd—and shrewdness wasn’t enough. He demagogued the issue—no Social Security checks—until he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.
So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forces—the presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.
Update: I want to point something out.
The president made a call on Twitter for his followers to tweet at Republican congressmen.
Not everyone was enamored. The account stood at 9.366 million followers by 6 p.m., a loss of more than 30,000 followers. The White House’s official account, @whitehouse, was also publishing tweets at a rapid-fire pace throughout the day.
Why is this? I’d suggest this news from nine days ago provides a clue.
Tina touched on this in the previous post, but it’s important enough to look into the numbers. Harry Reid might consider the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act the worst piece of legislation in the history of, well, legislation, but he doesn’t get much company among American adults. In the latest CNN poll, two-thirds of voters favor the idea of tying a raise in the debt ceiling to spending caps and a balanced budget amendment, and this isn’t a survey of conservative-leaning likely voters, either. However, if you expect the CNN story about its own poll to highlight this result, then you obviously haven’t been reading CNN long…
When President Reagan, whom President Obama is obviously trying to imitate in his call to the public to back his plans (his almost-plans? his I’ll-have-a-plan-for-you-next-week-plans?), called for the public to call their congressmen, he was asking them to support policies that 65-70% of them already supported.
That’s about the percentage who… were supporting the remedy that the House Republicans are pushing.
When the president goes against policies that a 65% majority of the population support, well, it isn’t going to do much for his approval ratings.
At what point does Laureen Harper tell husband Stephen to knock it off already with the economizing kick?
Mrs. Harper put up with skipping the Royal wedding so her husband could spend his time getting re-elected instead (like two days in London would have changed anything).
She seems OK (from what anyone can tell) with him refusing to move out of drafty, stuffy old 24 Sussex Drive so the National Capital Commission can make $10 million in “urgent” repairs.
But this may be the breaking point. While Mr. Harper spends his summer break playing mini-putt in Buffalo, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife are spending two weeks at a Tuscan villa that rents for $16,000 a week.
On the other hand, Harper did get called “one of the world’s most powerful leaders“.
Tuscan villas sound more impressive. On the other hand, they’re annoying, draughty places — personally, give me the mini-put, followed by wings and beer at the Anchor Bar… Or that fried clams place in Oswego that Alan keeps posting about.
Actually, I think the PM has his heart in the right place — provided that he does hunt down the local chow. Buffalo wings, red hots, clams. You can find a lot of fun stuff in the North Country and in the Buffalo area, if you care to try. Tuscany’s lovely too, but you don’t need to go that far to have some good clean fun.
This story is not at all surprising.
Think about it this way — if you’re a Quebecois provincial politician, you align yourself along a separatist or federalist axis only. You concentrate on fighting the other side. You don’t really think along ideological lines until you think about moving to federal politics, at which point you start thinking about where you would fit best.
If you have a certain anti-establishment bent, you are tempted both by Team Blue AND Team Orange. Mulcair apparently thought hard about joining Team Blue and heading into cabinet, but ultimately chose Team Orange.
But it’s an interesting what-if — what if Mulcair had joined the Tories?
Here’s my prediction: the Conservatives would have won Outremont in September 2007.
What’s more, they would have won a majority in October 2008, with at least 25-30 Quebec MPs, some of whom had strong nationalist ties.
So at first, it would have been much better for the CPC — big majority in 2008. (170 seats?) Now, how that would have played out with the recession, I don’t know.
Right now, we would be a year-and-a-half out from a new election, and with the opposition having free rein to be as demagogic as they wanted to, I’m not sure how Harper would be doing in the polls.
The Liberal bastion of downtown and midtown Toronto would still be secure…
Even the Almighty only scores a 52% approval rating.
She appeared on CPAC as a newly elected NDP MP, the day after the election.
Seems to me that her English isn’t great.
But then, that’s not all bad — the Quebec position is what really needs to be protected for the Dippers, not English Canada, which voted overwhelmingly for the Tories. (Mulroney ’84 levels of support.) And that’s all an interim leader needs to do.
Update: Actually, she’s improved.
Why do I think that this Washington showdown will end differently from 1995′s?
What do I think?
I think we’ll end up with a debt ceiling increase with some spending cuts and no tax increases. Which isn’t great, but isn’t disastrous either.