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Posts For: July 31, 2011

How the SuperCommittee Might Work to GOP Advantage

The budget deal requires an additional $1.5 trillion in spending cuts to be designed by a “super-committee of legislators” who will propose painful recommendations—and if those recommendations aren’t accepted by both Houses, there will be automatic cuts to Defense and Medicare. The idea here is that Republicans will be restrained from avoiding tough choices by the supercommittee by the prospect of big defense cuts, while Democrats will feel the same way about Medicare.

Oh? So, going into an extremely nerve-wracking election season, only Republicans will care about defense spending? Defense spending has been all but sacrosanct for the past decade, and there’s a reason for that: the public loves the military, it’s the most popular institution in America, we’re fighting two wars, and whatever the military wants it gets. So Democrats don’t mind handing potential rivals an issue relating to their irresponsibility toward our military?

Oh, yes, they sure do and they sure will.

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The budget deal requires an additional $1.5 trillion in spending cuts to be designed by a “super-committee of legislators” who will propose painful recommendations—and if those recommendations aren’t accepted by both Houses, there will be automatic cuts to Defense and Medicare. The idea here is that Republicans will be restrained from avoiding tough choices by the supercommittee by the prospect of big defense cuts, while Democrats will feel the same way about Medicare.

Oh? So, going into an extremely nerve-wracking election season, only Republicans will care about defense spending? Defense spending has been all but sacrosanct for the past decade, and there’s a reason for that: the public loves the military, it’s the most popular institution in America, we’re fighting two wars, and whatever the military wants it gets. So Democrats don’t mind handing potential rivals an issue relating to their irresponsibility toward our military?

Oh, yes, they sure do and they sure will.

Similarly, it’s one thing for Republicans to redesign Medicare to make it more affordable; not even a conservative Republican politician wants to be held accountable for draconian across-the-board cuts.

Tonight, Barack Obama all but guaranteed the November showdown would involve tax increases (his “balanced” approach). At the same time, House Speaker John Boehner says changes in how the budget is calculated (the “baseline”) makes such tax hikes almost impossible.

But again, let’s look at this practically. Democrats actually want to vote for tax increases going into an election year? The leading Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid, certainly didn’t want that even now for members of his caucus, 15 months before the election.

So, in the final analysis, the logic of the “trigger” in the showdown depends on Democrats not minding defense cuts and desiring tax hikes. They won’t want either and will therefore be pushed in the Republican direction in the negotiations.

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Bachmann Stumbles, Perry Closes in on Romney in Rasmussen Poll

How’s this for an impressive feat – without even entering the GOP presidential race, Gov. Rick Perry has somehow managed to position himself as one of the Republican frontrunners, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. Mitt Romney is still leading the presidential field at 22 percent in the latest poll of likely Republican voters, but Gov. Rick Perry is already nipping at his heels at 18 percent.

Much of this has to do with the fact that Romney’s support has dropped 11 points since Rasmussen’s post-debate poll in mid-July. Bachmann had come in second in that survey, but now she slightly trails Perry at 16 percent.

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How’s this for an impressive feat – without even entering the GOP presidential race, Gov. Rick Perry has somehow managed to position himself as one of the Republican frontrunners, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. Mitt Romney is still leading the presidential field at 22 percent in the latest poll of likely Republican voters, but Gov. Rick Perry is already nipping at his heels at 18 percent.

Much of this has to do with the fact that Romney’s support has dropped 11 points since Rasmussen’s post-debate poll in mid-July. Bachmann had come in second in that survey, but now she slightly trails Perry at 16 percent.

Another indication Bachmann’s momentum might be subsiding a bit: Perry also beats her among self-proclaimed Tea Partiers, 28 percent to 22 percent — the one demographic where Bachmann has been expected to maintain an edge.

In fact, while Perry is considered by many to be an “establishment” candidate, his potential entrance in the race appears to pose more of a risk to Bachmann than Romney. Among non-Tea Party Republicans, Romney still surpasses Perry, 29 percent to 13 percent.

The poll also showed Tim Pawlenty’s valiant attempts to keep his head above water have had little impact on Republican voters so far. The self-proclaimed “comeback kid” actually cut his support in half since Rasmussen’s June poll, pulling in a paltry 3 percent. Making matters worse: he’s even polling behind Newt Gingrich’s dead-in-the-water campaign (6 percent) and Herman Cain (9 percent), who probably has more of a chance at winning the presidential nomination in the Islamic Republic of Iran than he does in the Republican Party. At least Pawlenty can take solace in the fact he’s still leading the luckless Jon Huntsman, albeit by just one percentage point.

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Satan Sandwiches and House Democrats

A fantastic bit of rhetoric from an enraged leftist Democrat in the House, responding to the outlines of the budget deal: Emanuel Cleaver, a pastor from Missouri, described it as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” And indeed it is. There are no good options for liberal/Left Democrats in the House. If they vote against the bill en masse, they will make Obama look as though he has betrayed his own core principles, and indeed, they may lead to the deal’s collapse if a few more Republicans than agreed to the Boehner bill yesterday decide to vote no. Should that happen, they will destroy the Obama presidency. But if they agree, they are eating that sandwich. Tactically and strategically, this is a political disaster for the Democrats. That won’t mean much to the Tea Partiers in the House, whose opposition to the bill is entirely conviction-driven. But to the extent that a politician’s heart beats within a Tea Partier’s breast, that politician should be able to see the practical benefits to him and his party here.

A fantastic bit of rhetoric from an enraged leftist Democrat in the House, responding to the outlines of the budget deal: Emanuel Cleaver, a pastor from Missouri, described it as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” And indeed it is. There are no good options for liberal/Left Democrats in the House. If they vote against the bill en masse, they will make Obama look as though he has betrayed his own core principles, and indeed, they may lead to the deal’s collapse if a few more Republicans than agreed to the Boehner bill yesterday decide to vote no. Should that happen, they will destroy the Obama presidency. But if they agree, they are eating that sandwich. Tactically and strategically, this is a political disaster for the Democrats. That won’t mean much to the Tea Partiers in the House, whose opposition to the bill is entirely conviction-driven. But to the extent that a politician’s heart beats within a Tea Partier’s breast, that politician should be able to see the practical benefits to him and his party here.

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Triggering Defense Cuts

Defense spending may be marginally safer now that Sen. Harry Reid’s debt-ceiling plan – which included up to $860 billion in defense cuts – has been taken off the table. But the new proposal being kicked around by Republicans and Democrats reportedly contains a measure that could jeopardize our national security at a later date. By including a “trigger” mechanism that will kick off across-the-board spending cuts if (when?) both parties are unable to agree on reductions, Congress is opening defense up to some serious budget-slashing. Here’s John Bolton’s take:

Every indication is that the debt ceiling negotiations are leaving the defense budget in grave jeopardy. By exposing critical defense programs to disproportionate cuts as part of the “trigger mechanism,” there is a clear risk that key defense programs will be hollowed out.

While the trigger mechanism comes into play only if the congressional negotiators fail to reach agreement on the second phase of spending cuts, it verges on catastrophe to take such a national security risk.

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Defense spending may be marginally safer now that Sen. Harry Reid’s debt-ceiling plan – which included up to $860 billion in defense cuts – has been taken off the table. But the new proposal being kicked around by Republicans and Democrats reportedly contains a measure that could jeopardize our national security at a later date. By including a “trigger” mechanism that will kick off across-the-board spending cuts if (when?) both parties are unable to agree on reductions, Congress is opening defense up to some serious budget-slashing. Here’s John Bolton’s take:

Every indication is that the debt ceiling negotiations are leaving the defense budget in grave jeopardy. By exposing critical defense programs to disproportionate cuts as part of the “trigger mechanism,” there is a clear risk that key defense programs will be hollowed out.

While the trigger mechanism comes into play only if the congressional negotiators fail to reach agreement on the second phase of spending cuts, it verges on catastrophe to take such a national security risk.

Our military has already been asked to make some painful sacrifices in the name of deficit reduction. Obama’s initial FY11 projections called for $6.7 trillion in defense spending during the next 10 years. That’s been reduced to $6.2 trillion (the FY12 appropriations projection), as the military has been fighting three wars and struggled to modernize and replenish equipment.

We don’t yet know the details of the across-the-board cuts that would be triggered if Republicans and Democrats are unable to agree on reductions, but we do know Obama’s recent request for the military to cut $400 billion during the next 12 years was daunting enough for national security officials. Republicans and pro-defense Democrats will need to hold tough on this issue — when bipartisan groups like the Gang of Six have called for $890 billion in defense cuts, there’s a chance military spending could be on the chopping block regardless of whether the trigger comes into play.

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“Trigger” Could Mean Up to $750 Billion in Defense Cuts?

The “triggers” in the latest debt ceiling deal have mostly been agreed upon, but ABC’s Jake Tapper reports on two items apparently still being hashed out:

And the debt ceiling will be raised by $2.4 trillion in two tranches: $900 billion immediately, and the debt ceiling will be raised by an additional $1.5 trillion next year – either through passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which is unlikely, or with Congress voting its disapproval.

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The “triggers” in the latest debt ceiling deal have mostly been agreed upon, but ABC’s Jake Tapper reports on two items apparently still being hashed out:

And the debt ceiling will be raised by $2.4 trillion in two tranches: $900 billion immediately, and the debt ceiling will be raised by an additional $1.5 trillion next year – either through passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which is unlikely, or with Congress voting its disapproval.

Two items still being negotiated:

1)    The exact ratio of Pentagon to non-Pentagon cuts in the trigger – Democrats want 50 percent from the Pentagon, Republicans want less;

2)    Democrats want to exempt programs for the poor from the cuts.

So, in the event Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on the $1.5 trillion in reductions next year, that could mean up to $750 billion of the defense budget will be slashed automatically — which goes well beyond the reductions proposed by President Obama, and would seriously undermine our national security. Considering defense spending accounts for a much lower percentage of the deficit than entitlements, this is an outrageously disproportionate reduction. And if Democrats are also insisting programs like Medicaid need to be taken off the table, then that means other programs will have to shoulder more of the burden.

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Reid Loses Big in Debt Ceiling Debate

After all of Reid’s puffery that his plan was the only one that could get through both houses of Congress, the Democratic leader suffered an embarrassing blow today when his (recrafted) proposal flopped in the Senate:

The vote, initially planned for late Saturday, ultimately proved inconsequential, with leaders working to agree on terms of a new plan. The Senate could return to vote on it Sunday evening if an agreement is reached.

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After all of Reid’s puffery that his plan was the only one that could get through both houses of Congress, the Democratic leader suffered an embarrassing blow today when his (recrafted) proposal flopped in the Senate:

The vote, initially planned for late Saturday, ultimately proved inconsequential, with leaders working to agree on terms of a new plan. The Senate could return to vote on it Sunday evening if an agreement is reached.

Rep. John Boehner was supposed to be the loser of the debt ceiling debate, the one who was too weak to get his unruly members in line on his plan. Instead, as Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard, Boehner’s last-minute maneuvering unified the Republicans and ultimately vindicated the House speaker:

Democrats, liberals, the media, rent-seeking corporate heads, an untold number of interest groups, and the permanent Washington establishment loathe the budget amendment. But it’s extraordinarily popular with the public. And that was important for Boehner’s purpose. It was a tranquilizer for jittery Republicans. They could boast of insisting it be in the bill, thus offsetting their vote for raising the debt limit. It was a clever trade-off and it worked. Boehner got the last 10 votes he needed.

Adding insult to injury, Reid appears to have been pushed to the side as Sen. Mitch McConnell and the White House negotiate a last-minute plan. With just control of the House, Republicans have managed to seize the reins on the debate. Tea Partiers might grumble about compromising, but that pales in comparison with how furious progressives are likely to be with the Democratic Senate leader.

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When Metaphors Attack

Tom Friedman’s favorite model train set suffered a tragic disaster a week ago, when a carriage from China’s high-speed rail system leapt over the side of a bridge, killing 40 people and injuring almost 200. China fetishists like Friedman view the fast and flashy Chinese infrastructure boom as a literal model for the U.S. Our trains are slow and need new paint, you see, and that means China is better positioned to excel in some presumably train-obsessed future. Or something like that.

The thing is, Barack Obama has bought into this line. When he talks about nation building at home, he’s referring to the kind of countrywide well-being and prosperity that only a Friedmanesque rail-dominated utopia can deliver. But, as a well-known anchor on China’s CCTV noted, there’s a problem here:

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Tom Friedman’s favorite model train set suffered a tragic disaster a week ago, when a carriage from China’s high-speed rail system leapt over the side of a bridge, killing 40 people and injuring almost 200. China fetishists like Friedman view the fast and flashy Chinese infrastructure boom as a literal model for the U.S. Our trains are slow and need new paint, you see, and that means China is better positioned to excel in some presumably train-obsessed future. Or something like that.

The thing is, Barack Obama has bought into this line. When he talks about nation building at home, he’s referring to the kind of countrywide well-being and prosperity that only a Friedmanesque rail-dominated utopia can deliver. But, as a well-known anchor on China’s CCTV noted, there’s a problem here:

The speed of China’s development at the moment is like a high-speed train—it’s the envy of the whole world—but while satisfying our need for speed, we might be forsaking many things. Can we drink a glass of milk without worrying? Can we live in a house that won’t collapse? Can we drive along a street in a big city without it caving in? Can we ride a train that arrives safely? And if there’s a big train accident, can we be sure that the engine won’t be buried? In short, can we have a basic sense of security necessary for people’s happiness?

When Friedman employs Chinese high-speed rail as a catch-all metaphor for what China is really about, he’s more accurate than he knows. The system is unsafe, costly, and thoroughly beset by corruption. According to the Wall Street Journal, last week’s accident sparked an explosion of public discontent. The medium of choice for these complaints? That would be an American technological innovation—the Internet. “The new technology has fundamentally changed the relationship between China’s government and the governed. …Internet users are aware that issues like food safety problems, land-use abuses and corruption are pervasive.”  Apparently, the Chinese people are angry the Railway Ministry swept away evidence of the accident within 24 hours of its occurrence. Doubtless, Friedman will find such efficient cleanup another example of China’s edge over the U.S.

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Lebanese Cabinet Minister: Obama Won’t Sanction Hezbollah-Controlled Lebanon

Salim Karam, who is from the Hezbollah-allied Marada party and is the minister of state in Lebanon’s new Hezbollah-controlled government, doesn’t think the White House has the will to do it:

State Minister Salim Karam said in an interview published on Saturday that he does not believe the U.S. will sanction Lebanon. “We are not afraid [of sanctions], and we do not think that we are targeted by anything of that kind because the U.S. distributes their sanctions [everywhere] but has not put Lebanon itself on the black list,” he told Kuwaiti newspaper As-Seyyasah.

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Salim Karam, who is from the Hezbollah-allied Marada party and is the minister of state in Lebanon’s new Hezbollah-controlled government, doesn’t think the White House has the will to do it:

State Minister Salim Karam said in an interview published on Saturday that he does not believe the U.S. will sanction Lebanon. “We are not afraid [of sanctions], and we do not think that we are targeted by anything of that kind because the U.S. distributes their sanctions [everywhere] but has not put Lebanon itself on the black list,” he told Kuwaiti newspaper As-Seyyasah.

He also asked why people are insisting the new government will serve foreign (read: Iranian) interests, because how can anyone know what’s in the future? It’s apparently an inscrutable blur, far beyond the horizon of human scrutiny. Never mind that as recently as June 2011 Nasrallah was venerating Khamenei at Beirut conferences with titles like, “Convention of Renovation and Jurisprudence of Imam Khamenei’s Intellect,” and that the modestly named Party of God permits the Supreme Leader total sway over Hezbollah’s decision-making process in Lebanon.

In fairness – while Karam’s “O, that a man might know the end of this day’s business” posturing is teeth-gratingly pedantic – he’s probably right about the Obama administration’s actual policy. The U.S. has given Lebanon more than $700 million in security assistance since 2006, a policy that even amateur bloggers predicted at the time would end with Hezbollah “taking over the government and thus gaining control electorally of the newly modernized Lebanese army.”

Hezbollah having duly seized power, the Obama administration is reportedly searching for ways to “still do business” with Lebanese government officials who are Hezbollah stooges but not Hezbollah members. We’re even supporting the Hezbollah government in their post-hoc self-declared maritime “dispute” with Israel, functionally rewarding naked Iranian-backed aggression. Even assuming there are cuts in security assistance – and State seems to be pushing for nudge-wink games about certification that would largely avoid cuts – it certainly doesn’t look like a robust sanctions regime is in the works.

That’s even though we know – thanks to leaked documents from Wikileaks and the LulzSec hacker collective, respectively – that U.S. officials are aware of Hezbollah infiltration in Chile and in the Southwest United States. There are also those just unsealed drug charges in Manhattan. Hezbollah isn’t so much at our shores as inside the country.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s most notorious Christian fig leaf is already promising to dismantle U.S. intelligence assets in Lebanon, a promise that has particularly dark resonances given Hezbollah’s history of kidnapping American officials and slowly torturing to death over the course of years. The training and equipment the Lebanese government uses for counter-intelligence, by the by, comes from U.S. security assistance. It was long ago already turned against Israel’s efforts to monitor Hezbollah, which doesn’t make much sense because we were providing security assistance so the Lebanese Armed Forces could counterbalance Hezbollah, but why quibble about details?

Maybe everything will work out, and it’ll turn out Hezbollah doesn’t want power after all. It’s true the new government was described as “a well-prepared coup implemented by Hezbollah,” and Hezbollah-linked ministers completely dominate the cabinet. But as the New York Times took pains to headline, the new government is merely “influenced” by Hezbollah. You never know!

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House Republicans Find Their Voices in Defense of Defense Budget

It’s good to hear House Republicans finding their voices in defense of the defense budget. As the weeklystandard.com notes, leading House figures including Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Reps. Randy Forbes and Allen West held a press conference to denounce as “incredible” and “unconscionable” (in West’s words) the sweeping defense budget cuts proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid–cuts that would go double the already indefensible $400 billion in cuts pushed by President Obama.

West, a former army lieutenant colonel and Iraq War vet, noted on a recent visit with the troops, “I heard some things that really sent a chill down my spine…. Commanders told me that we’re starting to have to budget toilet paper into the barracks.” In other words, the military is already facing a budget crunch; further cuts will exacerbate the situation and make it impossible to carry out the armed forces’ vital missions.

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It’s good to hear House Republicans finding their voices in defense of the defense budget. As the weeklystandard.com notes, leading House figures including Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Reps. Randy Forbes and Allen West held a press conference to denounce as “incredible” and “unconscionable” (in West’s words) the sweeping defense budget cuts proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid–cuts that would go double the already indefensible $400 billion in cuts pushed by President Obama.

West, a former army lieutenant colonel and Iraq War vet, noted on a recent visit with the troops, “I heard some things that really sent a chill down my spine…. Commanders told me that we’re starting to have to budget toilet paper into the barracks.” In other words, the military is already facing a budget crunch; further cuts will exacerbate the situation and make it impossible to carry out the armed forces’ vital missions.

I only hope Republicans will keep that perspective in mind as they deal with further budget cuts on the horizon. With a debt-ceiling package now seemingly in the last stages of negotiation (although things could always come undone), Congress faces the prospect of massive cuts in the very near future. National Journal reports the current agreement being ironed out would call for $2.8 trillion in budget cuts during the next decade–$1 billion immediately in discretionary spending cuts and another $1.8 billion by the fall as agreed to by a “super committee.” If that “super committee” doesn’t reach agreement, that would trigger automatic cuts that could include defense spending and Medicare. Defense spending is already being reduced; there will be a temptation to make those cuts much deeper so as to hit arbitrary budget targets, and damn the consequences.

That would be a big mistake, for as Gen. Martin Dempsey, the nominee to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned the Senate,  it would be “extraordinarily difficult and very high risk” to cut defense by $800 billion as envisioned by Harry Reid. While the Reid bill appears dead for the time being, cuts of those levels could still be revived–unless Republicans hold firm.

 

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Containment, Rollback, and the Debt Compromise

As of now—Sunday morning—word is there’s a deal between the White House and Republicans on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. No tax increases. $1 trillion in immediate budget cuts. A required $1.5 trillion in cuts by November as designed by a bipartisan committee or (if the House and Senate do not agree on them) automatic cuts to Medicare (to scare Democrats) and Defense (to scare Republicans).

If the details are true, and the deal holds, it’s an astonishing achievement for the Right—the most significant conceptual shift in American politics since Bill Clinton announced his support for ending welfare in 1996. Without question, there are elements on the Right that will not see it this way—that will say the deal is a sellout, that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are craven, they are enablers, they are carrying Obama’s water. I’d like to suggest a political analogy from the past that might help explain why they are wrong and why they are being unjust to those who support a deal.

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As of now—Sunday morning—word is there’s a deal between the White House and Republicans on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. No tax increases. $1 trillion in immediate budget cuts. A required $1.5 trillion in cuts by November as designed by a bipartisan committee or (if the House and Senate do not agree on them) automatic cuts to Medicare (to scare Democrats) and Defense (to scare Republicans).

If the details are true, and the deal holds, it’s an astonishing achievement for the Right—the most significant conceptual shift in American politics since Bill Clinton announced his support for ending welfare in 1996. Without question, there are elements on the Right that will not see it this way—that will say the deal is a sellout, that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are craven, they are enablers, they are carrying Obama’s water. I’d like to suggest a political analogy from the past that might help explain why they are wrong and why they are being unjust to those who support a deal.

In the wake of the effective Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe after the second world war, the fall of China to Mao, and North Korea’s invasion of South Korea, American anti-Communism split into two camps. One camp actively advocated what was called “rollback”—the application of military force to force the Soviets and their clients to retreat from the countries they had overrun. The other camp supported the doctrine of “containment,” which argued for quarantining Communism within the countries that had fallen under Soviet domination and remaining in a state of cold war with the Soviets and their proxies.

Both rollback and containment had as their goal the defeat of the Soviet Union and world Communism. But the strategies were different. The rollbackers said the peril was so imminent the failure to effect the change immediately would lead to the inevitably victory of the Communists. The containment advocates said we did not have the means to roll back Communism militarily, but if we held the line, over time Communism would self-destruct owing to its evil, its impracticality, and its inability to compete with the free peoples of the West.

The rollbackers thought containment was nothing short of capitulation. In 1952, a firebrand senator from California named Richard Nixon denounced those who had degrees from what he called “Dean Acheson’s cowardly college of Communist containment” as he ran for vice president on the GOP ticket with Dwight Eisenhower. Acheson, a towering figure in American political and diplomatic history, had been Harry Truman’s secretary of state.

Today we remember Truman (and Acheson) as heroes of the Cold War for standing up to the Soviets, saving Western Europe from the advance of Communism, and being so stalwart that they committed U.S. forces by the hundreds of thousands to prevent Stalinist North Korea from breaching the laws of containment and subsuming the South. But to the supporters of rollback in 1952, they were sellout squish liberals and the unwitting (or witting!) agents of Soviet design.

The supporters of rollback were uninterested in the political reality of that moment. They believed the U.S. was locked in a titanic moral struggle literally between the forces of evil and the forces of good, and anything less than the commitment of all available resources to win the battle was a form of surrender. They were morally in the right, but practically in the wrong.

Today those who oppose raising the debt ceiling on the grounds that we need to solve the debt crisis immediately or we will be destroyed by it are the direct descendants of those who supported rollback.

Everyone on the Right agrees that the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path that must be altered. The difference comes down to the acceptance of political realities. Just as the United States could not effect rollback in the late 1940s (or any time thereafter), so too the Right and the Republican Party cannot effect a revolutionary change of course on July 31, 2011 with the Senate and the White House in liberal Democratic hands. The strategy, like containment, must have a longer time horizon, though it has the same goal: Ending the entitlement state before it swallows up the rest of the country.

The conceptual triumph of the Right is evident in two elements of the supposed deal. Take the fact that there are no new tax hikes. It was only 12 days ago that Barack Obama warned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor not to “call my bluff” and said he would go to “the American people on this.” He did; his poll numbers tanked. The “balanced approach” he advocated backfired on him even though he and his people continued to claim it had overwhelming popular support.

Now take the fact that in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling of $2.5 trillion, there will be corresponding dollar-for-dollar cuts. That establishes a new budgetary precedent, a rational and sound one, on the question of the national debt ceiling, one that will restrain presidents of both parties as we go forward.

So who are Obama and the Democrats in my analogy? They are the accommodationists of the early 1950s (and their progeny throughout the Cold War) who declared that the anti-Communist right was a hornet’s nest of crazy people who would ignite a war and get us all blown up. They wanted peace and harmony and cordial relations with the Soviets and their proxies just as the accommodationists today want to put their heads in the sand and refuse to face the moral and political and fiscal threat emanating from the entitlement state. Whereas the rollbackers were wrong strategically but right morally, the accommodationists were wrong strategically and wrong morally.

But those who advocated containment were right strategically and right morally. And their descendants are right to support the debt-ceiling deal.

 

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