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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.