Barack Obama is the Real Winner In the Debt Ceiling Deal
The mainstream media and leftist talking heads are declaring the debt ceiling deal a great victory for the Tea Party and a defeat for Barack Obama. However, the political reality is that Barack Obama is the real winner from this deal. The key is to realize that for Obama, it is all about winning reelection in 2012.
1. The deal raises the debt ceiling enough to get past the election. The debt ceiling debate focused attention on Obama's runaway spending. Taking the debt ceiling out of the picture for the election eliminates an issue which would draw unwanted attention to Obama's spending.
2. The deal includes no new taxes. Widely portrayed as a Republican victory, this actually suits Obama's purposes. The taxes he was promoting were inconsequential from a revenue point of view. Their real purpose was to provide a focus group tested talking point and means to fire up his leftist base. Now he can keep using the talking point without having to acknowledge that in reality it is just smoke and mirrors.
3. The deal kills the balanced budget amendment. The deal does provide for a vote on the BBA. However, Obama now has set up the BBA up for a repeat of 1995, when it failed in the Senate by one vote and was thereby diminished as an issue against Clinton in the 1996 election. The BBA will certainly be killed again in the Democrat Senate this time since it needs 20 Democrat votes to reach the required two-thirds approval. Worse, the margin is so wide that Democrat Senators vulnerable for defeat in 2012 can vote for it and there will still be sufficient Democrat votes for it to fail.
4. The deal allows Obama to keep raising money from Wall Street. Obama's patrons on Wall Street did not want a default because it would have cost them money. By getting a debt ceiling increase, Obama keeps his Wall Street constituency happy and pouring in the campaign contributions.
5. The deal does little to reduce pre-election government spending. The spending cuts in the first year are only $22 billion, and that is off of Obama's previous wild spending increases. The actual reduction in the government money Obama has available to spend in the year running up to the election is minimal.
6. The deal enables Obama to hang on to his leftist base. A serious challenge from the left in the Democrat primaries, and even worse a serious leftist third party presidential candidate in 2012, would divert Obama's resources the way Ted Kennedy's primary challenge weakened Jimmy Carter in 1980. Right now the left is squawking like crazy, but the deal's lack of any really serious immediate spending restraint means that there is nothing in it that would really drive the left to challenge Obama in 2012.
7. The deal permits Obama to once again get away with voting "present." While cable talking heads are now criticizing Obama for looking like a weak leader, the fact is that one of Obama's great political skills is his perfection of the politician's art of ducking responsibility. Unfortunately, thanks to Obama's supporters in the mainstream media, the general electorate only sees his self-serving calls for Congress to do the work while he floats above the controversy. While he may not seem dynamic, he also avoids the taint of the deal which falls on Congress instead. In politics, the presence of a negative is worse than the absence of a positive.
8. The deal gives Obama a story line to continue to demonize the Tea Party. Obama's supporters in the mainstream media are already spinning the story line of how the "extremist" Tea Party "terrorists" were willing to hold the entire economy "hostage" to get their way. This permits Obama to deflect criticism of the deal by saying that the intransigent Tea Party "forced" him to accept it. That this story line is entirely false and unfair will certainly not stand in the way of Obama using it in the election campaign.
9. By saving him from having to invoke the 14th amendment stratagem, the deal lets Obama look "moderate" for the election while laying the groundwork for expanded presidential power in Obama's second term. After complaining for decades about the expansion of presidential power, the left suddenly came up with a truly cockamamie argument that the 14th amendment would allow the President to sell government debt instruments without congressional authorization. By declining to openly advocate this blatant violation of the Constitution, Obama can present himself as less extreme during the election. At the same time the left is now committed to this argument, which will enable Obama to use it in his second term to expand government borrowing without regard to the constitutional separation of powers.
I recognize that the shift of the discussion to cutting spending is a positive development, and that many of these benefits to Obama may have been unavoidable. However, we must recognize political reality no matter how unjust if we are going to prevail in the battle to save America's future.