Oh, by the way, with all the talk about the inside maneuvering and high drama associated with the deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” I almost forgot that the agreement passed in Congress and signed by the president did nothing to help the economy and less than nothing to slow the tsunami of red ink currently drowning this nation. Remember, the federal debt has grown 60 percent since President Obama took office. Thankfully, Steven Hess, a senior vice president of Moody's Investors Services Inc., reminds us in a statement released yesterday that the fiscal package finally passed Tuesday "[d]oes not provide a basis for a meaningful improvement in the government's debt ratios." And in case the Moody's statement is too vague, today's Washington Post has an excellent story by Jim Tankersley that says "business leaders warned that the agreement will hurt sales and hiring."
The good news is that we avoided falling off the cliff; the bad news is that the freight train is still coming at us. I guess when the dust settles and news of the deal fades we will get back around to the fact that the economy is dangerously weak and our debt is growing to unprecedented, alarming levels. More on that later.
Speaking of dust, House Speaker John Boehner has stepped in the political mud left by Hurricane Sandy big time. The speaker inexplicably postponed a vote on the Sandy supplemental bill that he had promised leaders in the GOP caucus and in the affected states would happen. Actually, his decision was based on some sound reasoning, and no one will suffer as a result, but the move enraged his allies and delighted his competitors and enemies.
Regardless, delaying the vote and surprising so many people was unwise. As I like to say, in politics, bad gets worse. The effects of this self-inflicted wound will linger. There will be a lot of melodrama and wailing about the suffering inflicted upon Sandy's victims, and I won't add to that. But the story to watch here in Washington will be whether this blunder emboldens the speaker's competition. Put simply, does Majority Leader Eric Cantor think now is the time to make his move and offer himself, more in sorrow than anger, for promotion? The answer is probably not. The speaker is weaker than he was two weeks ago, but no one else is necessarily stronger, and Boehner has a deep reservoir of goodwill and respect in the GOP caucus. That said, one more mistake or an unseen banana peel could send the speaker tumbling.