nihilism: an update
Far-right pundit Erick Erickson has revised his previous point of view that nothing bad will happen if we default to today’s bad things will happen but we can blame them on Obama. This is something that more reasonable Republicans, the ones who know default will be economically destructive but are nevertheless allowing themselves to be brow beaten by the Tea Party into rejecting any and every deal, must be telling themselves a lot. Polls show the opposite – that people already blame the Republicans – and Mitch McConnell, who declared his most important job as minority leader to be defeating Obama, is nevertheless willing to cede power to Obama to raise the debt ceiling without Congressional approval in order to avoid responsibility.
Keep in mind that Obama offered Republicans a deal that included $4 trillion in spending cuts, including to entitlements and discretionary spending. The Tea Party rejected an opportunity to enact the kind of spending cuts that Republicans of only a decade ago would have been salivating over. In fact, moderate Republican pundits and economists practically begged their guys to take the deal.
Though I believe the kind of austerity measures Obama is proposing, enacted during a weak economy, would slow if not end the recovery, I think he’s on the right track for the long term. I actually wish he would go further and enact the Bowles-Simpson plan, which proposes even deeper cuts over the long term than the $4 trillion deal. The problem is there is no political will to make these kind of changes when we are not in crisis. And there may not be the political will to do it now, since actually improving our situation is only the goal of some of the people at the table. Defeating Obama is the goal of others, and a good deal doesn’t serve that purpose. But if we are to address the deficit, we must eventually cut entitlements and defense spending, and we must raise revenues. There simply is no other way to do it.