Debt Ceiling Winners and Losers
As the details emerge, this may be subject to revision, but the Washington Post's Chris Cilliza has some interesting first impressions.
Mitch McConnell: The Kentucky Republican was like the Mariano Rivera of the debt deal. He waited until the game was in its final moments, came onto the field and helped close things down (in a good way). McConnell was also a voice of reason and frankness for Republicans, making clear that default would be a huge political loser for the party. In the end, he got a deal the way he wanted one — with him at the center of negotiations.
Tea party: There were major questions coming into the 112th Congress about who would blink first — the largely establishment-aligned leaders of the new Republican House majority or the tea-party-aligned freshman members. We got our answer to that question late Thursday as House Speaker John Boehner was forced not only to postpone his compromise bill but ultimately to add conservative sweeteners to get the 217 votes he needed. (He got 218.) The tea party — inside and outside Congress — will almost certainly be emboldened by the result of this fight.
President Obama: The president needed a deal of some sort to prove that he was capable of making the government work — even if it took until the eleventh (and a half) hour to strike the compromise. Liberals are likely to be deeply unhappy about the nature of the deal, which includes no increases in taxes or revenue. But remember that Obama’s target constituency in 2012 is not his base but rather independent and moderate voters. And those fence-sitters love compromise in almost any form...
Congress: Coming into this debt-ceiling showdown, Congress was about as popular as poison ivy. One can only imagine just how much further that discontent has spread after this high-profile demonstration of brinkmanship and intransigence. Lawmakers — bless their hearts — seem entirely unaware of just how bad they looked during this fight and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks (or months) congratulating themselves on their tremendous magnanimity.
Gang of Six : The group was supposed to put lie to the idea that true bipartisanship — in which both sides give somewhat equally — was dead. But the gang was never able to deliver its plans, amid departures and re-arrivals (Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, we’re looking at you). And after a brief renaissance late in the game when Obama praised the group, it faded again — eclipsed by plans pushed by leaders in both parties.
Commissions: It seems as though the answer to every intractable problem in Washington is to form a commission. Social Security insolvency on the horizon? Commission! Education failing our kids? Commission(s)! (There have been at least four.) Heck, we have already had a commission to deal with the debt problem. The likely formation of a super-commission to figure out what can and should be cut out of the federal budget may not be doomed to failure, but it has a lot of bad commission history to overcome.
Liberals: As the basic framework of the deal emerged, liberals began voicing their discontent about a bargain that left their side wanting more. With no revenue in the initial phase of the legislation and Medicare cuts on the table in the second phase, there’s not much for the ideological left to celebrate.
BONUS: check out the reaction of prominent liberals to the deal:
John Podhertz (Conservative)
Paul Krugman (Liberal)
Michael Tomasky (Liberal)
Jennifer Ruben (Conservative)
It would seem to be an overwhelming opinion that the Republicans won and the Democrats led by President Obama lost. The question is will the Tea Party be able to recognize victory when they see it?