By Dan Kervick
By the time I post this, the Republicans in the House of Representatives may already have torpedoed last night’s fiscal cliff budget deal. But the miserable lessons of both the budget deal and the White House political strategy that engendered it stand in any case: the Obama administration is both economically incompetent and hostile to progressive values. Progressives need to stop acting like submissive partisan hacks, and stop offering mealy-mouthed gestures of moral support to a conservative, deceitful and morally bankrupt administration that is complicit in the attack on progressive values and broad prosperity.
The blogosphere is abuzz today with confusing postmortem evaluations of the negotiated deal. But the political tally sheets of policy pundits like Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Matt Yglesias, Timothy Noah, Robert Reich and Jeffrey Sachs make no sense to me. I really don’t care who won, who lost, who blinked, who glared, who caved and who prevailed in a stupid negotiation between two stupid parties over the best way to wreck our economy and punish the American people. I also can’t relate at all to those who think the “debt crisis” is a real phenomenon and whose main criticism of the deal is only that it does not suck enough tax revenue out of the economy. What I see is that if this deal passes:
1. The payroll tax is coming back right away. That’s a major recessionary blow.
2. A bunch of spending cuts are going to be implemented in a couple of months. That’s also recessionary.
3. The debt ceiling is still in place. This means Republicans will soon be able to extort more recessionary cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
4. Some rich people’s taxes are going up a little, which is more than fine with me, but the tax increases are not offset by additional spending as they should be. So the tax increases will also be recessionary.
5. There will be no direct action at all on employment and growth. The US government is still dead in the water as the prosperity of the country is eroded, so mass unemployment will continue to be a recessionary drag on the US economy. The unemployed will have their benefits extended, of course, along with their hopelessness and crushed dreams, as they learn to live permanently beneath the bus under which Obama and the Republicans have thrown them.
So to me, this deal is a recession package. Welcome to the double dip! I guess Obama has learned nothing from the experience of his Tory pal, David Cameron, or from the other countries in Euro Austerityland who have engineered a second punishing recession for their people. Or maybe Obama is doing it to us on purpose, to inflict more conservative shock treatment on the US social contract that Pete Peterson, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have convinced him we can’t afford.
I have been told that I should count my blessings and be grateful Obama has negotiated a deal in which we only get 60% of the austerity that he and the Republicans negotiated last year with the Budget Control Act of 2011. But that’s absurd. Obama has preached debt crisis and deficit contraction incessantly since 2009. He has actively sought a deficit destroying grand bargain and helped engineer the current crisis. He’s the anti-FDR. He doesn’t get points because he only wants to drop a Nagasaki-sized atomic austerity bomb on the United States instead of a larger hydrogen austerity bomb. Both sides in this debate are utterly MAD.
There is no debt crisis. There is no deficit crisis.
There is a jobs crisis. There is an incomes crisis. There is an economic development crisis.
We need a bigger deficit. We need a more active Federal government.
Both Obama and the Republicans are enemies of ordinary Americans and their families.
I voted for Obama on November 7th solely to help defeat Mitt Romney and his party of contemptible troglodytes. I was glad to do it, but defeating Romney is only the first preliminary stage of a progressive resurgence. So on November 13th I went to my town clerk’s office and ended my life-long association with the Democratic Party. I now strongly urge other progressives who are still members of the Democratic Party to take the same step.
Stand up and walk out. Then let people know what you are doing. I am sending a copy of this post to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as all of the major Democratic elected officials and party leaders in my state.
Until Democratic Party politicos see tangible, bottom line, sweat-inducing evidence that a core constituency of their party has simply had it – evidence in the form of dwindling registration rolls and shrinking donations – they will never be made to understand that Barack Obama and the conservative, neoliberal cadres that now dominate the party’s leadership elite are destroying their party and unraveling their coalition.
The austerity mania of Washington has turned into a national nightmare. Make it stop.
We know what Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, thinks of the left side of the Democratic Party: “f-ing retarded.” Well it’s time for Rahm’s Retards to act.
Update: (11:15 EST, 1/1/13) The US House of Representatives voted to approve the Double Dip Act.