Friday Open Thread [12.13.13]

Filed in Open Thread by on December 13, 2013

The New York Times editorial board on the Budget Deal that just passed the House.

For most of this year, the brutal cuts to federal spending known as the sequester have wreaked havoc on important programs, cutting off hundreds of thousands from Head Start and low-income housing assistance, setting back scientific research and environmental protection, and costing more than a million jobs. Getting rid of the sequester for domestic programs was a high priority for Congressional Democrats, and they achieved much of what they wanted in a budget deal reached on Tuesday that in other important respects was disappointing.[...]

The details of the agreement show that Republican loathing of taxes and domestic spending continue to dominate the budget debate. The full domestic and military sequester should have been eliminated, not just part of it. Even more important, a balanced and fair agreement would have compensated for the new domestic spending with tax increases on the wealthiest Americans by closing unnecessary loopholes.

And an extension for unemployment insurance should have been part of the budget deal as well. For if the wealthy are getting a break, so should the poor. Paul Krugman agrees:

The pundit consensus seems to be that Republicans lost in the just-concluded budget deal. Overall spending will be a bit higher than the level mandated by the sequester, the straitjacket imposed back in 2011. Meanwhile, Democrats avoided making any concessions on Social Security or Medicare. Call this one for Team D, I guess.

But if Republicans arguably lost this round, the unemployed lost even more: Extended benefits weren’t renewed, so 1.3 million workers will be cut off at the end of this month, and many more will see their benefits run out in the months that follow. And if you take a longer perspective — if you look at what has happened since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2010 — what you see is a triumph of anti-government ideology that has had enormously destructive effects on American workers.

I am not sure the Republicans lost. They got some of what they wanted (easing of military sequester, no new taxes or revenue) and the Dems got some of what they wanted (easing of domestic sequester, nothing done to Medicare, SS). I am still glad the budget deal passed the House and will likely pass the Senate next week. Why? Two reasons. First, even I am tired of all the fiscal drama. It was affecting the economy. Now that will be done until October 2015. Second, passing a bipartisan budget deal will both embolden the Republican Leadership in the House to do other things and emasculate the Tea Party. Booman agrees:

Boehner seems to have had some kind of epiphany, since he spent this week spewing contempt at the hard-right outside lobbying groups that have dominated this Congress.

Indeed. The tea party came out against this deal, and only managed to get 62 Republicans to vote against it. The same number of Republican Representatives that forced Boehner to shut down the government two months ago. Then, he feared them and did what they wanted. Now, he screamed at them during a press conference, saying they have no credibility. And guess what happened? The bill passed. Easily.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), says the health insurance exchanges will work, and will work well. Well, if that is case, that means Coburn believes that the exchanges will both lower the costs of health insurance so that it is affordable, while at the same time insuring the uninsured. So why he is against it? How can you be against something that both lowers the cost of health insurance and covers the uninsured?

Could it be that you oppose it because you think health insurance is a privilege for only those who can afford it?

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  1. John Kowalko says:

    Info requested;

    Is it “THIRD WAY” or “Third World” or is the latter just the direction that this group “Third Way” intends to push America toward. What a callous disregard for humanity and people this abdication of morality represents.
    Dem. Reps. Schwartz (PA.), Kind (Wis) and Crowley (NY) also honorary co-chairmen “DENOUNCED” the op-ed so I gather our similarly positioned delegation would not be driven from the party if they responded in kind. Disheartening and Disappointing comes to mind.

    John Kowalko
    “Social Security” is not an entitlement and does not and has not ever caused a budget crisis. Dear Chris and Tom—-”Hands off S.S.”

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