The Fiscal Cliff Deal: Reax II

Jan 2 2013 @ 10:14am

Obama's reaction to the House passing the Senate's bill:

Sarah Binder puts the deal in perspective:

This week’s drama is a good reminder of the difficulty Congress faces in legislating solutions to long-term problems. Imposing costs today to secure benefits tomorrow puts legislators at risk for voter backlash. Myopic policies for myopic voters, Ed Tufte once wrote. The result is that Congress more often plays a new round of kick the can than tackles solutions to its fiscal mess. This time, Republicans think they will have the upper hand, as the parties go to battle over what it will take to raise the government’s debt ceiling. I suspect any solution will involve a new set of future deadlines intended to force Congress to legislate. Deja vu all over again.

Dave Weigel notes that most House Republicans voted against the Senate's bill. Daniel McCarthy adds:

The Tea Party is meant to ensure that the next go round will be different, but the Tea Party is part of the problem. In the absence of a real opportunity to shrink government, many of its activists would settle for wrecking government — which is what failing to raise the debt ceiling and let Uncle Sam to pay (or at least charge off) his bills amounts to. A wreck was also what some were hoping the fiscal cliff would produce. But there’s nothing conservative about that, and policy-by-catastrophe is detrimental to the cause of small government in the long run.

Paul Waldman's related thoughts:

[M]any of today's most conservative Republicans don't care all that much about the fortunes of the GOP. They didn't get where they are by toiling away on the lower rungs of the party ladder, patiently working their way up. They see themselves as brave mavericks, bucking the party establishment to promote their ideological agenda. I'm sure that for more than a few of them, a bipartisan chorus of voices screaming, "Are you f-ing crazy???" does nothing but convince them that they're right.

Yglesias weighs in:

If you don't think we should be worrying about the budget deficit, you shouldn't be enthusiastic about the overall state of FY 2013 fiscal policy but you should still think this deal is clearly superior to the fight-like-a-dog-for-the-extra-two-hundred-billion-bucks option.  That's why Paul Krugman—who's normally eager to castigate Obama for weak negotiating—is so soft on this deal. It's also why David Brooks, who's a true blue grand bargaineer, is so upset about it. Obama started this process with stated goals that were much more Brooks' than Krugman's. And relative to those goals, he played his hand relatively weekly and ended up achieving surprisingly little progress. But those goals weren't really so important. And relative to the goals that are important—minimizing economic damage in 2013, minimizing cuts in useful spending—the deal that ultimately got made was a pretty good one.

Noam Scheiber worries about future legislative fights:

[The fiscal cliff negotiations] affirmed to Republicans that Obama will do pretty much anything he can to avoid a debt default, regardless of what he says. It affirmed the White House anxiety that the GOP might not blink before we default. To put it mildly, that's quite an asymmetry. I want to believe the president can get through the next stage in this endless budget stalemate without accepting some of the more dangerous spending cuts conservatives are demanding. But at this point I’m having a hard time seeing it.

Ezra Klein also sizes up future negotiations:

[T]he Republicans aren’t quite as crazy as they’d like the Democrats to believe. They were scared to take the country over the fiscal cliff. They’re going to be terrified to force the country into default, as the economic consequences would be calamitous. They know they need to offer the White House a deal that the White House can actually take — or at least a deal that, if the White House doesn’t take it, doesn’t lead to Republicans shouldering the blame for crashing the global economy. That deal will have to include taxes, though the tax increases could come through reform rather than higher rates.

Earlier reaction here.