The Pundit Primal Scream

Pierce nails this:

Ask me what my greatest fear is right now, and I will tell you that my greatest fear is that the members of the SuperCommittee — which, as you may have noted, both Newt Gingrich and I think was a colossally stupid idea — will come up with some face-saving, middle-class-slaughtering, last-minute “compromise” because they think that’s what will make certain important people happy. Already, we are being inundated with dire predictions and gloomy speculation about what the “failure” of this wanktastic enterprise will “mean.” Trust me on this: To the great majority of Americans who are just trying to stay afloat in what’s left of the national economy, now that 30 years of conservative economics and a decade-or-so of Wall Street depredations have had their way, the fact that this group of people in Washington failed to come to an agreement on how best to hose the rest of us will not matter a damn.

Which doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to be treated like the collapse of the Republic by the entire politico-pundit establishment, and by all the politicians who curry its favor, and vice versa. Unfortunately, the Republicans are best suited to blame the Democrats for what’s happened because a) the Republicans are better at blaming someone else than any organization ever devised by man, and b) the Democrats were the gold-plated saps who thought a compromise of some sort would be possible if they just pitched enough of their basic principles overboard.

Strap on the life vests, because he is absolutely right, and we are about to be drowned by a tsunami of David Brooks’ tears. This whole exercise has been ridiculous from the get go, the very basic premise flawed:

So there’s this bipartisan group of elected officials known as “Congress” that passed $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions into law. They also designated a random group of wankers to come up with some alternative $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions as a substitute. They didn’t come up with a substitute. So we have the original path to deficit reduction as opposed to the potential substitute.

God forbid Congress actually live with the legislation they created and voted on.






46 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    Steve Benen has a post about Obama’s response to the committee’s failure. Shorter Obama (from his own speech): “There will be no easy offramps.”

    For all of Leon Panetta’s very public whining, I guarantee you that he already has his $600 billion in DoD cuts lined up.

  2. 2

    Yes, well, clearly the problem is that too many poor people don’t pay enough taxes. The supercommittee might have found a way to rectify this towering injustice if only the Democrats hadn’t been so unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Both sides are equally to blame here, though, really, it’s far more the Democrats’ fault. I for one, eagerly await Fred Hiatt’s deep and peotic musings on why decent Republicans just can’t work with these scheming Democrats, and why we as a country can’t afford to see that our poorest and most vulnerable citizens don’t starve.

  3. 3
    Brandon says:

    Meh. Pierce is right about all of it except the last part. People care so little about the ‘super committee’ that it doesn’t matter who says what or who blames who. No one cares and there are a lot of other shiny things to distract people with between today and even Friday. The lasting political effect of this ‘failure’ on anyone is nil.

  4. 4
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    God forbid Congress actually live with the legislation they created and voted on.

    But, but, John, why do you want the current Congress to be something other than what the Founding Fathers so clearly intended, which is to say an institution that on it’s best days most closely resembles the old bar-room picture of Dogs Playing P0ker, if it were re-interpreted by the ghost of George Grosz.

  5. 5
    General Stuck says:

    the Democrats were the gold-plated saps who thought a compromise of some sort would be possible if they just pitched enough of their basic principles overboard.

    Pierce is a good writer, with a knack for good snark, but he is just wrong about the above. No one in DC, or about anywhere else that follows politics, even a little, believes a deal was possible with the current winger mindset on taxes. Not Obama, or anyone else. Though I am sure they at least kept a door of doubt open about it, going through this exercise.

    Now whether or not Obama led the wingnuts down this primrose path of fail and exposition, or the nutters just went that way on their own, or a combo of both, I don’t know. But the result was predictable and predicted by idiots like me, full of wonderment why the wingnuts would paint themselves into such a small corner of fail. I suspect they been reading liberal blogs on how Obama is spineless, and ditto for Harry Reid.

    It has been “ridiculous from the gitgo” but hardly a useless exercise in politics played well. And that is and was all it is or was. This is the battlefield the wingnuts chose, and they have a vote on whether serious governance is the order of the day, or not, but have chosen to play foolish games foolishly, and dems reeled them in like fat carp full of shit.

    Now we get to cut the military some more, a perennial favorite for liberal xmas. A gift of the Maji, if you will. And, medicare provider cuts, that stand some chance of slowing down health care costs. Or more revenues in round about ways. And maybe most important, exposing the GOP for the shameless liars they are by once again laying bare their naked single interest of protecting the rich. Well done, Obama, and dems for working like a pride of lionesses stalking a political feast on wingnut.

  6. 6
    Hunter Gathers says:

    The truly hilarious part comes when 67 Senators vote to overturn Obama’s veto, killing the defense cuts. And believe me, there are enough GOPers and chicken hawk Dems to pull it off.

  7. 7
    Brandon says:

    BTW, how come its never mentioned that the reason we had the ‘super committee’ in the first place was because Republicans pushed us to the edge of default to get it. And now they want to reneg on a deal that was so important to them that they threatened to fiscal future of the country to get it. If I were Obama I would be pointing this out every single day.

  8. 8
    jl says:

    @Brandon: Probably true. I think very few people give a tinker’s damn about the StupidDuper Committee. The idea of near term deficit crisis was fake to begin with, and both sides treated it more as political maneuvering than a real issue (since most of the powerful players knew it was garbage).

    Obama was the most honest about it, I think, though I didn’t like his strategy of playing along. Except now, if he is re elected, he can just do nothing, or veto, and achieve a major policy goal of getting rid of Bush tax cuts.

    I disagree with Pierce. I think the GOP milked this stunt for all it was worth and will move on. They tried to use the Committee to push through a disguised extension of the Bush II income tax cuts, and that did not work.

    Now, I think their best use of this total farce, is to spread disinformation, and try to smear the Democrats as obstructionist. But I think that their plan for Bush II tax cut extension, deluxe SuperComittee special edition, was transparent and obvious enough that it will not last long enough to do them any good in the election.

    Edit: Obama seems willing to publicly hold the GOP to account for its previous agreements, and I hope he keeps it up.

  9. 9
    Jenny says:

    Pierce is a bore.

  10. 10
    boss bitch says:

    Can Democrats get a little credit? When the committee was put together many on the left swore up and down that they were going to cave on revenue and tax cuts but they didn’t.

  11. 11
    Emma says:

    @General Stuck: Naw. This is printing fifteenth of the twenty-second edition of “OHMYGOD OBAMA IS GOING TO GET ROLLED!” And then the dust settles and… Obama’s standing there smiling and the big bad republican wolves are walking out with their tails between their legs. But the hyperliberals have as much vested in the “Obama is a failure” meme as the hyperconservatives.

  12. 12
    General Stuck says:

    @boss bitch:

    Can Democrats get a little credit?

    Every blogger is president, and every blog commenter an oracle of defeat. Interspersed with a handful of Obots. A little credit from these wizards? un possible.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @boss bitch # 9:

    No. SATSQ.

  14. 14
    JWL says:

    “..the Democrats were the gold-plated saps who thought a compromise of some sort would be possible if they just pitched enough of their basic principles overboard”.

    Rubbish. Pierce is confusing the principles of the rank and file with machinations of the party’s DINO’s. Just look at who was was chosen to represent the party on the Super Committee (a moniker I despise nearly as much as “the Homeland”).

  15. 15
    Brandon says:

    @Emma: While I generally agree with that analysis, Obama’s prediliction for splitting the puppy means that important policy goals do suffer. The fact that there were agreed cuts at all when the state of the economy calls for massive stimulus is evidence of that. And it doesn’t help that all his closest economic advisors are very much in favor of balancing the budget by cutting entitlements.

  16. 16
    Dave says:

    Pierce is a contrary indicator when it comes to analyzing the Democrats. Every single one of his lame duck session predictions was wrong, and he’s still convinced that the President “wants” to gut Social Security.

  17. 17
    General Stuck says:

    @Dave:

    Pierce is a contrary indicator when it comes to analyzing the Democrats. Every single one of his lame duck session predictions was wrong, and he’s still convinced that the President “wants” to gut Social Security.

    Yes, but I cannot easily dismiss quality snark. It’s a weakness.

  18. 18
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Horrendo Slapp (formerly Jimperson Zibb, Duncan Dönitz, Otto Graf von Pfmidtnöchtler-Pízsmőgy, Mumphrey, et al.):

    Fred Hiatt’s deep and peotic musings

    I suppose that’s a typo, but dear FSM, I do love the word “peotic” and plan to use it lavishly.

  19. 19
    CaliCat says:

    Like I give a flying fuck what that vomit-bag Newt Gingrich thinks about anything. If I ever find myself agreeing with Newt on any issue, I’ll reconsider my position.

  20. 20
    desraye says:

    @Brandon:

    The fact that there were agreed cuts at all when the state of the economy calls for massive stimulus is evidence of that.

    The cuts are trigger in 2013.They are also over 10 years.

  21. 21
    Brandon says:

    @Dave: Pierce is an astute observer and excellent writer. As you point out though, his analysis is clearly a bit off. But when was being wrong ever a disqualifier for being a pundit? Ah yeah, when you’re a Democrat, because we all know IOKIYAR.

  22. 22
    Brandon says:

    @desraye: even though the cuts are not scheduled to begin until 2013, what evidence is there that the economy will be anything close to normal by then? Furthermore, because these announced cuts affect market expectations, the net result is that they are deflationary now, despite the fact that they don’t kick in for another year. And that is bad for you, me and everyone except the rentier class.

  23. 23
    General Stuck says:

    @Brandon:

    By this reasoning, I trust you support extending the Bush tax cuts, or making them permanent in 2012. Because the amount of cash that will take out of peoples pockets for stimulus will dwarf the current cuts over ten years. At least the MC Bush cuts. And the medicare provider cuts hold some promise in delivering much needed savings for that program. So it looks to me like liberals, or some of them are promoting memes as much as anything on sound fiscal policy that counteracts some memes in favor of others. And cutting the mil budget falls into the same murky waters of on one hand, but then on the other.

    Or, if you worship at the alter of keynesian philosophy, then you need to make a choice to remain consistent, and oppose letting the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012, or the same for not cutting the military. Otherwise, as all are stimulus as federal money spent, or not, and it becomes just a mishmash of competing liberal memes.

  24. 24
    Lawnguylander says:

    ,,,b) the Democrats were the gold-plated saps who thought a compromise of some sort would be possible if they just pitched enough of their basic principles overboard.

    After what’s happened over the past eight months or so this guy can write stuff like this and still get promoted as someone who understands what’s going on in DC? And isn’t he the same douche who was saying a week or so ago that it’s the Democrats’ fault that the GOP is so crazy? Please. Every time I get told that there’s some blogger out there who I simply must read that blogger turns out to be not worth my time at all. Let the choad elevating moments continue, I guess.

  25. 25
    thymezone says:

    Okay, this thread is a joke, right? Surely nobody gives a rat’s ass about Brooks’ tears or any other pundit outburst?

  26. 26
    Emma says:

    @Brandon: I was going to launch into a tirade but Jesus, I’m tired. You’re the type that likes Captains that go down with the ship rather than Captains that get the ship and crew to port even though they’re all a little battered and bloody.

  27. 27

    @Hunter Gathers: Yeah. That was my first thought too as soon as Obama said he’d veto any attempt to stop those cuts.

    The Pentagon has seriously done a great job at making sure that it’s projects are dispersed just enough that every congressman practically has at least one thing in their district and they will fight to the death to protect those government jobs. Because, as we all know, war spending doesn’t count against the deficit.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    @General Stuck:

    ” if you worship at the alter of keynesian philosophy, then you need to make a choice to remain consistent, and oppose letting the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012, or the same for not cutting the military. ”

    This pure as the driven snow Keynesian who offers sacrifices at the alter on a daily basis disagrees. For two reasons.

    One, there IS a long term budget deficit problem, almost entirely caused by rapid increases in health care costs. We shouls be be worrying about both short run stimulus and long run deficit control (though not in the incoherent and/or dishonest way of the VSPs). It would be better if we did not have that trade off to make, but we do.

    Two, not all gummint and private sources of spending are created equal in terms of short run impact. In fact, a ‘balanced budget multiplier’ can be a very efficient stimulus if designed correctly. I think a balanced budget multiplier that increases public investment, and that is at least partially paid for by increasing taxes on high income earners and through lower military spending could be a very effective short run stimulus.

    Edit: if concept was not clear, if you increase government spending, and also increase taxes to partially, or totally, pay for the increased spending, you have a balanced budget multiplier of some kind.There are a number of ways to increase both and still have a significant short run multiplier effect from the increased spending.

  29. 29
    Nutella says:

    @boss bitch:

    Can Democrats get a little credit? When the committee was put together many on the left swore up and down that they were going to cave on revenue and tax cuts but they didn’t.

    I was so worried that they would cave and I’m thrilled that they didn’t. Now all we need is for congressional Dems and Obama to hang on and refuse to change the laws that are in effect now so the Bush tax cuts and the ‘sequestration’ cuts go into effect in a year.

    So I am cautiously optimistic that the Repubs are caught in a bind now that will limit the damage they can do.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    Maybe I’m unclear on how the whole Superduper Committee thing works, but why would it be the Senate overriding the veto? The House is in charge of spending and has to approve all fiscal bills. At a minimum, don’t you need a supermajority in the House before it even gets to the Senate for their half of the override?

  31. 31
    General Stuck says:

    @jl:

    I made my comment based on the faux notion that the current auto cuts and previous debt deal cuts are not good long term deficit reduction, as delayed to 2013. The point I am trying to make is that it is intellectually lazy to flip back and forth on preferred policy, that may be unsound economics, that is sometimes trumped as a better ideological outcome in the liberal mind. And I do not agree that the anti stimulus effect of letting the Bush tax cuts expire is neutral for it’s spending stim effect. As I am not a “pure as driven snow” devotee to keysianism, or any thing else. But do broadly agree with its tenants, that make sense, up to a point. I will be honest in that I want the Bush tax cuts to expire, despite their immediate and profound effect of spending power of citizens, and the anti stim effect. Because I do also believe in what Krugman calls the “confidence fairy” up to a point that it is good basic policy to pay for shit as much as possible, that makes everyone feel a little bit better about our national prospects, because it isn’t all about the numbers. I also believe there are structural impediments to our slow recovery that stim spending won’t solve, right along with the stim spending philosophy of Keynes also being needed. It doesn’t have to be either or, but can be some of both, or all. Mostly.

    Two, not all gummint and private sources of spending are created equal in terms of short run impact. In fact, a ‘balanced budget multiplier’ can be a very efficient stimulus if designed correctly.

    A lot of things work if designed the right way. That rarely to about never occurs in our sausage factory on Capital Hill. The overnight loss of the Bush Middle Class tax cuts as spending power to stimulate the economy, will be effective immediately as anti stimulus.

  32. 32
    Turgidson says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    Yep, that’s my concern. The same bedwetters who almost unanimously killed Obama’s request for the funds to close Gitmo are still there, basically.

    Lieberman, Nelson x2, Manchin, Tester, McCaskill, Warner, Feinstein, Conrad, Baucus, Pryor…all spring to mind as suspects who would be willing and perhaps eager to reflexively thwart defense cuts. Then someone like Hagan in a purplish state might get the jitters. And a guy like Carl Levin might want to show how strong on defense he is. Ditto someone like Carper. And I haven’t even thought much about which states rely disproportionately on defense contract largesse for some huge number of their state’s jobs (and campaign contributions), but that’s probably at least a couple more.

    Add those names to all Republicans and you’re already in shouting distance of a veto override.

  33. 33
    Maude says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    You’re getting picky.
    You are right. Spending originates in the House.
    I don’t have a crystal ball to predict what happens with this.

  34. 34
    General Stuck says:

    @Turgidson:

    Yea, but they need a fair number of dem house votes to get to 2/3 in that chamber. And there are many fewer blue dogs than there used to be.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Maude:

    If they can’t get 2/3rds in the House, it doesn’t matter how many Senate assholes vote to override the veto — the override fails. So bedwetting about “OMG THE SENATE!” seems like searching for something to be upset about.

  36. 36
    Maude says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    I agree. I don’t like the negative forecasting. It doesn’t help.

  37. 37
    gnomedad says:

    now that 30 years of conservative economics and a decade-or-so of Wall Street depredations have had their way

    … and the teabaggers are convinced the Obama is bringing soshulist Armegeddon. I don’t understand why my head hasn’t exploded yet.

  38. 38
    Soonergrunt says:

    @John Cole, top–check your blog email, Sir.

  39. 39
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    “drown by a tsunami of David Brooks’ tears” — Damn, that is good writing.

  40. 40
    Turgidson says:

    @General Stuck:

    True. That at least could be a firewall, though the GOP already has a majority there, so the number of Dems they need to pick off, proportionally, is smaller.
    But yeah, the Blue Dog Massacre of 2010 does mean the caucus is a little less prone to crapping its pants at the first sign of “zomg weak on defense” bullshit.

    Could be interesting. And by interesting, I mean depressing.

  41. 41
    mclaren says:

    Getting 1.2 trillion dollars of cuts is easy. It’s a 30-second job. Just slash that amount from U.S. military spending, which leaves us with well over 200 billion per year — more than any other country spends on their military.

    I don’t see the problem.

  42. 42
    Citizen_X says:

    we are about to be drowned by a tsunami of David Brooks’ tears.

    And they will be, as Herman Cain speaking “Cuban” would put it, delicioso.

  43. 43
    goblue72 says:

    I’m sorry, but anybody able to turn a phrase like “which they have sworn with their hands on Grover Norquist’s dick to resist to their last breath”, gets a pass from me.

    Sure, he only hits the mark for political predictions 1 out of 3 – which puts him somewhere just over league average on VORP for a pundit – but he’s Pedro Martinez in his prime when it comes to throwing the heat high and tight at Republicans heads. And that puts him as a first round lock in the political pundit HOF over almost every other MSM bootlicker of the 1% out there.

  44. 44
    goblue72 says:

    @General Stuck: And Nancy Smash controls 44% of the House. To break 2/3, 50 Democratic members of the House need to break ranks from Nancy. Who keeps all their balls in jars on her mantlepiece, right next to her plate of chocolate chip cookies. Steny Hoyer tried to play “my turn” when the Dems lost the House in 2010 – and she snipped his off before he could sneeze. (and I say all that as someone proud to have Minority Leader Pelosi as his representative in Congress, from the Fighting District 8-CA)

    Not. Gonna. Happen. Tommy D’Alesandro’s little girl from Baltimore don’t break.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jenny: Well then you enlighten us with some gripping prose that will make us all forget that tedious bore, Mr. Pierce.

    Please take your time, want to see your best stuff.

  46. 46
    Paul in KY says:

    @General Stuck: The military doesn’t seem to think those cuts will ever happen.

    Colour me skeptical as well (would sure like to see them, though).

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