It seems to be the new talking point: The deal is a victory for conservatives not because of what it does (which is, not much!), but because it supposedly represents a change in the direction of the debate. Once, Washington discussed what to grow. Now, Washington discusses what to cut. Even former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has echoed the theme — but with qualifications. The Wall Street Journal Washington Wire reports:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Monday’s House vote to lift the debt ceiling was a victory for the tea party, proving that conservative activists had shifted the conversation in Washington.
“We shall take this victory and make sure our politicians in office today are learning from this victory,” Ms. Palin said Monday night on Fox News, where she is a paid contributor. “It’s not a 100% pure genuine victory. We just handed the most liberal president, I believe, in U.S. history a $2.4 billion debt increase.” …
Ms. Palin didn’t fully embrace the deal, saying she had plenty of problems with the compromise between the White House and congressional leaders, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner. In the past, the former governor said she was not convinced America would face a default if lawmakers did not raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2.
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the founders of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress (along with GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann), says the deal can’t possibly be touted as a win.
“The Tea Party is not calling this a victory,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said today on Fox News. “I’m certainly not.”
It’s perplexing, really — the way so many conservatives changed their minds at the last minute. About a week ago, Palin called for any supposedly small-government freshman who voted for a debt ceiling increase to face a “contested” primary. Now, she’s silent on the subject of the 59 House freshmen who voted for the deal. And what about the 59 freshmen who voted that way in the first place? What accounts for their support? What accounts for Boehner’s comment that he got “98 percent” of what he wanted, when he clearly didn’t?
The effort to spin this compromise as a conservative victory is impressive — and it makes sense. No one wants to declare themselves diminished politically. And this deal enables leadership to tout its ability to garner votes, to prevent default, etc., etc. etc. But it’s still just a political victory. It’s not a solution. And to rest too much on the laurels of maybe-no-tax-hikes and at-least-it’s-not-a-clean-debt-ceiling-increase obscures the distance the country still has to go. Better to stay focused on the facts: The nation is still spending money it doesn’t have (we’re borrowing about $2 million every minute of every day!). The government is still growing (keep in mind the cuts are to increases in spending over the next 10 years).
Here’s the full video of the Palin interview: