I honestly believe there were reasonable grounds for disagreement among conservatives concerning the best strategy and tactics to tackle what they agree -- if all Democrats don't -- to be a national debt crisis. By failing to cut one another slack, we'll only serve to divide our coalition and impede our shared agenda.
Those supporting the deal, recognizing that Republicans control the House but neither the Senate nor the presidency, believed that congressional leaders had negotiated the best deal they could with Democrats and that we should agree to it. If not, they feared, we might face a default with unpredictable fallout, hurting the economy and the GOP's chances in 2012, which both sides agree would have calamitous national consequences.
Opponents were less fearful of a default from a debt ceiling impasse. They believed the decision whether to downgrade our credit rating would be based more on the exploding debt than it would the debt ceiling and that it would be very risky to move on and put all our reform eggs in the 2012 basket. They were less concerned about taking the political hit in 2012 for finally calling Obama's bluff. They weren't convinced the GOP, which had put forth numerous plans, would take the political hit instead of Obama, who never produced a plan. They were also very opposed to the provision that allows Obama to put this issue on the back burner until after the 2012 elections, which will result in less budget scrutiny and more political cover for him -- both of which will be detrimental for the nation.
But the deal is done now, so we must examine who won and who lost. Some have argued that Obama lost, because Republicans secured spending cuts in excess of the debt ceiling increases and staved off Obama's attempt to increase taxes. Some have boasted that Keynesian economics has now been repudiated.
But liberals, especially Obama, will never abandon Keynesian "stimulus" spending. Even now, they still blame the economic failure on too little spending and are salivating over new federal programs. We don't know for sure that they lost the tax issue, because if the economy keeps going south, the bipartisan super-committee could blame the spending "cuts" and recommend tax hikes. It's not likely they'd pass, given the Republican majority in the House, but possible. Perhaps a more realistic threat on taxes is the White House's view that the Bush cuts may be allowed to expire under the deal, notwithstanding Rep. Paul Ryan's disagreement.
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