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Aug 04 2011

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Sore Winners

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Gettin 75% Isn't Losing

If there was one word to describe Washington right now, it would be “exhausted.”

President Obama inked the compromise debt agreement Tuesday, with only hours to go before the Treasury hit its debt ceiling without the ability to borrow and pay all the nation’s bills; an act that almost certainly would have sparked an economic crisis.

But after six months of plans, statements, press conferences, red lines and backroom negotiations, the final deal seemed only to double down on the frustration of the ruling class.

Liberals and progressives were horrified at the ground ceded by the President. Potentially $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over a decade and not one red cent in new revenue.

Ironically, Tea Party activists who gained the most are screaming the loudest against the deal.

Consider that for the first time in history, spending cuts have been directly tied to the debt ceiling. That the cuts in discretionary spending are real.  That there is a panel to recommend broader deficit reduction – including reform to entitlements – that must report by the end of the year, lest automatic spending cuts get triggered. That a balanced budget amendment will be voted on in both Houses. And all of this was agreed to without raising taxes.

That this was accomplished at all is itself historic.

But to have achieved these results without a governing majority – and to have the most liberal president in modern American history sign the deal – that’s extraordinary.

To dismiss the deal, as much of talk radio did over the past two days, because it didn’t fix everything at once is simply preposterous, given the current political make-up of Washington.

The hard, cold facts are that the debt deal slowed down the financial train wreck that the US is on, but it didn’t stop it or turn it around. That it was slowed at all is a significant victory.   But fixing the ship of state cannot be accomplished legislatively with the current composition of Washington; is going to require another election.

Right now, America is on the same page with Republicans, seeking to limit government, tackle the debt and get the economy moving again.

Republicans, conservatives and Tea Party supporters are on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make their case to the American people for common-sense, principled but pragmatic governance. A fresh leadership that can reform and secure entitlements for generations, reform the tax code to lower rates and catalyze economic growth and job creation,  and reduce spending; reversing the trajectory of our national debt.

The key will be to control the impulse to overreach.

Is it possible?

66 House Republicans voted against the only debt deal on the table that was passable, the only deal that would prevent a breach of the debt ceiling and economic chaos that would have ensured.  These Members were willing to sink the American economy in support of economic proposals that, no matter how worthy, had absolutely no chance of becoming law.

The extent to which Republicans can reconcile that level of ideological commitment with political reality will be the test of whether the GOP can prevail in 2012 and finally fix the nation’s economic ills.

 

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