August 4, 2011 [CLICK HERE to see proper format.]
Given, the hasty, bitter way the debt ceiling compromise was reached, it should surprise no one that it solves nothing. Almost all of the cuts are in discretionary programs in future years, and it would be a minor miracle if they are actually enacted. As Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition explains, "debt-limit deal needs to get done," but
The main flaw in the agreement is that it reflects the continued refusal of our political leaders to confront fiscal reality. Once again, they are leading with discretionary spending cuts while leaving the biggest problems -- entitlement and tax reform -- for another day.
Many Tea Partiers and their sympathizers (e.g., Richard Viguerie) are already either claiming victory for having put so much heat on the Republicans or else complaining that they were sold out, but neither argument gets to the heart of the matter. By poisoning the negotiating atmosphere with a thinly-veiled goal of making sure that President Obama would not get credit for any agreement, which would make it easier for him to get reelected, they almost assured that their goals of sharply reduced spending would not be achieved. In short, because of the deep partisan hatreds harbored by many people in that faction, they shot themselves in the foot.
Speaking of factions, I was pleased that one of the Washington Post columnists, Ruth Marcus, recently picked up on the main theme of the op-ed column that I wrote for the two weeks ago: The "mischiefs of faction." It's all about how the debt ceiling debacle illustrates the perils of factionalism that Founding Father James Madison warned about. I seriously doubt that she saw what I wrote, but it's nice to know that I'm not the only one thinking that way.
Since Doonesbury (Kevin Trudeau) once referred to Barack Obama as the "first black Kennedy," it's appropriate to salute the occasion of his 50th birthday with a sly reference to the risque "Happy Birthday" sung to JFK by Marilyn Monroe. I just signed an online birthday card for him at barackobama.com; hat tip to Clifford Garstang. My explanation (on Facebook): "Well, I guess there is at least a theoretical possibility that I might vote for him as long as he continues his recent moderate shift, depending on who the Republicans nominate, so I can sign that with sincere intentions."
No, I will NOT donate any money to his campaign! I guess I should have realized that the "birthday card" was just a fundraising gimmick.