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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:51 AM ET, 08/02/2011

The Morning Plum

* The big disconnect: One way to understand the debt ceiling deal that passed the House last night and will almost certainly pass the Senate today is this: It represents the current bipartisan capitulation on the idea that government can do anything to create jobs and fix the economy taken to its logical and ultimate conclusion.

As many observers have noted already, Democrats have effectively given up on trying to make the case for further government spending. The result has been bipartisan agreement to marginalize that argument to the point where it’s entirely vanished from the conversation. It’s only in this context that the bizarre bipartisan celebration of a deficit deal that managed to avert total implosion of the economy — while doing nothing to help solve the current problem with additional stimulus measures — makes any sense.

That both parties are asking us to view the current deal as an achievement, simply because it avoids the once-unimaginable prospect of default and total economic armageddon, only reveals the degree to which lawmakers, especially Democrats, have given up on making the case for sustained government action to help the economy. The bar has been lowered to the point where we are being asked to celebrate when government manages to narrowly avoid total economic disaster.

* White House fought hard to protect Medicaid: Defenders of the White House are citing this Politico tick tock of the deal in order to make the case that administration officials did draw a firm line in the talks:

By Saturday night, discussions over the trigger had bogged down, and a call between McConnell’s staff and senior White House aides turned heated when GOP negotiators demanded that Medicaid be added to the mix of programs that could face cuts.
Gene Sperling, chairman of Obama’s National Economic Council, was in mid-sentence, trying to calmly explain why the White House wouldn’t allow that, when Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew interrupted.
“No!” the typically mild-mannered Lew yelled. “The answer is simply no! No, no!”

* What about “winning the future”? The attitude this morning among liberals is basically a sad and angry puzzlement over how we can “win the future” when the current deal deeply cuts spending while including none of the stimulus measures Obama and Dems had wanted.

* Economic history lesson of the day: Joe Nocera provides a helpful reminder:

What is astonishing is that both the president and House speaker are claiming that the deal will help the economy. Do they really expect us to buy that? We’ve all heard what happened in 1937 when Franklin Roosevelt, believing the Depression was over, tried to rein in federal spending. Cutting spending spiraled the country right back into the Great Depression, where it stayed until the arrival of the stimulus package known as World War II.

* House Dems think GOP won total victory: Dem Rep. Eliot Engel boils it down: “We can try to sugarcoat it all we want. But the bottom line is, when Republicans started this debate, they said under no circumstances would they vote for any kind of compromise that had tax increases. And that’s just what they got.”

* Can liberals live to fight another day? Eugene Robinson makes the optimist’s case that the deal will allow progressives to rally again — that is, if they learn the lessons of this defeat.

* Obama reelection reality check of the day: Adam Serwer talks to political scientists who say Obama’s reelection will be in serious doubt without a real economic bounceback — the prospects of which are far from certain.

* 2012 GOP hopefuls try to out-pander one another on debt ceiling: Jon Huntsman, the only candidate to support the debt deal, seems to be the only 2012 GOP candidate who has decided that Tea Party primary voters must not be reasoned with at all costs about the need to compromise in order to stave off economic calamity.

* Debt ceiling isn’t the only story on Capitol Hill: In case you need to get caught up on the other stories that have bee completely lost in the debt ceiling noise, Ben Pershing has you covered.

* What about that pivot to jobs? Obama will meet today with the AFL-CIO to discuss ways of pivoting to jobs, a perhaps hopeful sign that officials will use the resolution of the debt deal as a hook to reorient the Beltway conversation in the right direction.

* Keep expectations low for the pivot to jobs: As Steve Benen notes, there isn’t much lawmakers can do at this point:

Keep an eye on a few measures, including the infrastructure bank, an extension of the payroll tax break, and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. These are modest steps, but they’d help, and they used to enjoy bipartisan support before Republicans went mad.

Also, as Atrios notes, there’s real political risk for Democrats in failing to move meaningfully to jobs, particularly after the White House and Dems have assured Americans that the current debt deal will help the economy.

* And your sorely needed Tuesday comic relief: So Sarah Palin is now pretending to be outraged over Joe Biden’s reported comparison of Republicans with terrorists.

How many news orgs lavishing attention on Palin’s latest will recall that she accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”?

By  |  08:51 AM ET, 08/02/2011

 
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