It is rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is where we are. And no two documents illustrate this choice of two futures better than the president’s budget and the one put forward by House Republicans. – Paul Ryan, Wall Street Journal
There is little doubt about it and anyone buying what the Republican House is selling, laid out by Rep. Ryan today, likely already bought in to the Obama administrations economic tilt rightward and its embrace of deficit reduction using the social safety net.
All I can write in response to Chait is that there were a lot of people who knew back in 2011 that Pres. Obama was going to “sell out” liberalism, because it was obvious. He’d been doing it since he came into office.
It’s just Republicans wouldn’t help him do it.
Chait’s epiphany is his closer:
The obvious reality is that there never has been any way to get House Republicans to agree to a balanced deficit deal. Even the capitulation Obama offered ““ $800 billion in semi-imaginary revenue, all raised from the non-rich ““ was too much for them to agree to. Locking in that low level of revenue would have required huge cuts in spending, making a decent liberal vision of government impossible. The Post is making the case that there was a potential deal, and Obama blew it by failing to properly handle the easily-spooked Republican caucus. What the story actually shows is that Obama’s disastrous weakness in the summer of 2011 went further toward undermining liberalism than anybody previously knew.
As a liberal, this is nothing new. Pres. Obama has been negotiating liberalism out of the picture his entire first term. I’ve been chronicling it the entire time.
Greg Sargent offered a nugget from David Corn’s new book yesterday as well, then offered this analysis on Obama’s embrace of deficit reduction:
Of course, progressives argue that it’s precisely because voters conflate economic anxiety with worry about the deficit that Dems shouldn’t have allowed concern about the deficit to drive them to make the pivot. But Democrats decided to draw the opposite conclusion. As both these passages show, Dems and White House officials knew that the policy justification for the pivot to deficit reduction was flimsy at best. But they decided they couldn’t win the short-term argument, and went ahead and pivoted, anyway.
At the time of the 2010 midterms, Pres. Obama refused to offer an alternative progressive economic vision. The result was that Republicans made historic gains in legislatures across the country, which led to the right’s wider war on women. Obama followed the shellacking by an embrace of the Bush tax cuts.
Pres. Obama and his administration finally veered back a tad just recently when after hitting women with the Stupak Amendment, separate checks for reproductive emergency in ACA, then scuttling the science on Plan B for politics, the Administration gave a go to a contraceptive mandate.
They did it out of political necessity, using liberalism to win women back, because the economics of energy was getting tougher and they needed something strong at their back. In elections today, women are one of the top groups to have at your side.
On fiscal issues, however, the right’s language on austerity and deficit reduction has been bought by the Democratic Party, offering a kindler, gentler austerity than Paul Ryan, but it’s still austerity.
Democrats continue to adopt the notion of austerity and deficit. Pres. Obama has simply made it gospel.
The good news for Democrats is that with what Rep. Paul Ryan just unleashed, only those into details know it.