I call upon these hardline, hostage-taking ideological fanatics to compromise for the good of America.
“This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it. Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage…
Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands. Progressives have been rallying support for the successful government programs that have meant health and economic security to generations of our people. Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus. We have made our bottom line clear for months: a final deal must strike a balance between cuts and revenue, and must not put all the burden on the working people of this country. This deal fails those tests and many more.
The Democratic Party, no less than the Republican Party, is at a very serious crossroads at this moment. For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government – a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want. While I believe the country will not reward them for this in the long run, the damage has already been done.
His proposed solutions? Either a clean debt-ceiling hike, which will do nothing to check the growth of spending that’ll eventually utterly destroy that “capable, meaningful government” he loves so much, or the Fourteenth Amendment option, which would add a constitutional crisis and total fiscal uncertainty to the country’s current basket of political goodies. Even so, it’s awfully nice of him to toss this grenade and complicate the Democrats’ messaging in case Boehner can’t get enough Republicans to push the deal through the House. Fun fact about the Congressional Progressive Caucus: It’s the largest on the left with fully 75 members, which means if they vote as a bloc tomorrow then Pelosi and Hoyer are already down to fewer than 120 Democrats who might be willing to help Obama out by voting with Boehner.
As for the GOP’s remaining core objection to the deal, it’s a byproduct of the progressives’ core demand highlighted above:
Defenders of the plan will say that the defense cuts may never come about, or that if the committee makes some cuts but not enough, only the remainder would be subject to a 50-50 sequestration. This is no small consolation to House and Senate pro-defense lawmakers who fear that the committee won’t do its job and that draconian defense cuts will follow.
Why would Republicans give so much on defense? An adviser close to the talks says: “This is the only thing Democrats are getting. It was more important than taxes.” If so, and national defense cuts are now a “get” for the Democratic Party regardless of our national security needs, this is shameful. And if Republican negotiators give in, then the Democrats are going to have to come up with lots and lots of votes to make sure the bill passes both houses.
According to HuffPo’s Sam Stein, all Democratic leaders had signed off on the deal as of 4:30 p.m. ET, which I guess means Pelosi thinks she really can deliver “lots and lots of votes.” She had better: Fox News’s Chad Pergram says he’s already hearing from conservative/tea party House members that they can’t support this deal either, which means Boehner will need a broad centrist coalition to get things done.
Stand by for updates, as usual.
Update: Reid’s office says he’s onboard, provided that the caucus approves the package. Bernie Sanders replies by calling it “grotesquely immoral” and “bad economic policy.” And here’s something fun from Chuck Todd: “The holdup on announcing the deal appears to be uncertainty of how House gets to 216.”
Update: In case you’re worried about the Super Commission recommending tax increases:
Republicans favorable to the deal feel as though they have three safeguards against the committee recommending tax increases and Congress going along: 1) The members appointed by Boehner and McConnell, who will presumably not be Gang of 6 types (McConnell would be wise to appoint Kyl, Sessions, and Toomey); 2) a tax increase would not get through the House and probably not have 50 votes in the Senate; 3) the baseline dynamic mentioned earlier.
That doesn’t solve the problem with heavy defense cuts in the trigger, but presumably the GOP thinks it can undo those with separate legislation before the cuts kick in.
Update: Desperate times:
Progressives and the CBC plan presser on Monday to ask Obama to invoke 14th Amendment to avoid debr crisis. 11 am.
Update: A GOP side explains to James Pethokoukis why it’ll be so hard for the Super Commission to try to raise taxes:
It has an undefined mandate of deficit reduction but the way that is constructed would essentially make it impossible to raise taxes. Anything scored by CBO is based on current law. Current law assumes that taxes are going to go up by three-and-a-half trillion dollars next year [over ten years]. So anything you do to the tax code, unless it starts off with a $3.5 trillion tax increase, it’s going to be adding to the deficit … It’s almost impossible for them to touch taxes because if they do, almost anything will be scored as a tax cut, making it that much more difficult to reach the $1.5 trillion that they need to get to.
That’s the “baseline dynamic” mentioned in Rich Lowry’s post quoted above.