The Third Estate
What Is The Third Estate?
What Has It Been Until Now In The Political Order?
What Does It Want To Be?


Tuesday, August 02, 2011
I decided to take a day to cool off after the debt ceiling deal was announced, and in part just in case there were any last-minute surprises. Rest assured, I have been paying very close attention to the debt ceiling debacle.
First, off the results of this process have been little short of catastrophic. The economy is going to suffer from these cuts, with what EPI is estimating 1.8 million job losses. If that happens, we can expect the deficit to continue to increase. Yes, cutting government spending in a depressed economy in order to shrink the deficit is self-defeating.

The political process has also suffered. Ianqui is by no means alone in her disgust, but the problem goes deeper than that. Mitch McConnell has stated that in the future all increases in the debt ceiling will be matched with spending cuts - so unless there is a major change in direction, right-wing austerity politics will become institutionalized. Further, the creation of the "Super Congress" is going to continue to diminish the role of the Congress, with a consequent loss in public accountability, in what Sandy Levinson has called "delegation run riot." Now Brad Delong is speculating that debt ceiling votes will move us further towards a Congress-centered parliamentary system, but I think he's operating on the assumption that Democrats will return the favor to Republican Presidents. If that was the case, of course, no Democrats would have voLinkted for the final package - and they most certainly did. No, this is a deal that will legally rule out progressive policies. That is its explicit purpose. Just as the Teabaggers.

The damage to the Democratic Party is obvious. Obama has further alienated liberals, and has put the Democrats in a permanently bad negotiating posture. So he's demotivated his base, weakened the economy heading into an election, made himself look weak, and emboldened his opponents. Nice work, Barry.

So who's to blame? There are a couple of schools of thought related to Obama. There's the "Obama is a bad negotiator" school. There's the "Obama is a conservative mole" school. And then there's the "Obama did the best he could in a bad situation" school. There are other candidates - the slanted press coverage, the radical conservatives in the Congress. Others blame liberalism, either for its lack of political support, lack of enthusiasm in 2010, or lack of recognition of the magnitude of the 2010 defeat.

What camp do I fall into? Who do I think bears the responsibility for this disastrous outcome? Tune in tomorrow and I'll tell you, and make a few suggestions about what should be done next.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:08 PM
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