Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is why we're risking macroeconomic disaster

Commentators are increasingly recognizing that the Reid and Boehner plans are similar, and that both would be significantly recessionary. David Frum recognizes why the difference is apparently worth fighting over:

"The Boehner plan promises to identify big cuts in discretionary spending over the next nine years. But wait a minute. Discretionary spending is appropriated spending. Congress can cut appropriations through the budget process anytime it wants. Why not just … do it? How is it a big win to declare a commitment to do it over a decade to come?

"The answer to that last is that the ordinary budget process requires some cooperation with the Senate and the president. And it was that cooperation that stuck in House Republicans’ craw. The big benefit of the Boehner plan is that it is seen to be imposed – and the current GOP mindset is that it’s better to gain less by show of force than to get more by negotiation."

This is what it comes down to. The Republicans' core goal has very little to do with policy, but rather is to impose a humiliating surrender on Obama and the Democrats. Meanwhile, the Democrats are more than willing to surrender in policy terms, even though the American public (unlike the Democrats themselves) takes the Democrats' side substantively (e.g., with regard to the mix between tax and spending changes). But the Democrats don't want to accept crushing humiliation in the form (as opposed to the content) that the final agreement takes.

Over this dispute - whether the Republicans should be allowed to openly humiliate the Democrats - we face the threat of an economic disaster that could be ten times worse than what happened in 2008.

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