With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye


8:30 am - August 1st 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Every week I play poker and every week there is the same unwritten rule: unless you indicate you are willing to go all in and lose it all, you will walk out a loser.

A couple of weeks ago I said President Obama had the Republicans over a barrel in the debt-ceiling negotiations. But it turns out I over-estimated Obama prowess as a negotiator and how far he was willing to capitulate to Republican extremists.

There is now a huge danger these cuts will sink the Presidency next year.

As of right now, the deal has not been finalised and not yet been passed. But the problem is this: this deal will not raise any taxes whatsoever, and demands nearly a trillion dollars in cuts.

Obama can veto extending the Bush tax cuts at the end of next year, but until then there is no new revenue. This is a downright absurd capitulation, especially given the current situation protects subsidies to oil companies and tax breaks to corporate jets. No wonder Republican leader John Boehner has already declared victory.

Key entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have largely been protected for now. But once the ‘Super-Congress’ (a gang of six Democrats and six Republicans) get together to make more cuts – Medicare and Defense will face the chop. And even then more tax increases may not come.

With the US economy now slowing down, these spending cuts will only exacerbate that slow-down. That puts re-election further out of his grasp.

I said last night that it would have been better for Obama, politically, to let the US default. Or at least say he was willing to let that happen unless tax rises were on the table. The polls were positive: if the US defaulted then most people would blame Republicans.

He should have seen this coming. He should have prepared. He should have realised there was no way to win the negotiations unless he was willing to go to the brink.

The Republican strategy was to indicate quite clearly were willing to go all in. Obama made the decision to put people’s well-being over politics. For that he will pay a heavy price.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Obama clearly hasn’t read Thomas Schelling’s Cold War classic “The Strategy of Conflict”, which sets out key advantages of being crazy over being sane:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Schelling
http://www.amazon.com/Strategy-Conflict-Thomas-C-Schelling/dp/0674840313
http://lesswrong.com/lw/14a/thomas_schellings_strategy_of_conflict/

I said last night that it would have been better for Obama, politically, to let the US default. Or at least say he was willing to let that happen unless tax rises were on the table. The polls were positive: if the US defaulted then most people would blame Republicans.

Well, thank goodness you’re not running a government.

Regardless of your opinion of which was the correct choice to make in terms of fixing the economy, letting the government default on its debts just to win political points is a bloody stupid thing to do.

“it would have been better for Obama, politically, to let the US default. Or at least say he was willing to let that happen unless tax rises were on the table. The polls were positive”

Does this mean you support putting politics before the greater good of the country?

Allowing the US to default would have been catastrophic. And most voters are short sighted – regardless of who was blaming who when it came to the default, the end result was that in 6 months when borrowing costs were higher cuts would have had to have been made regardless, and the blame would have fallen squarely onto Obama’s shoulders.

The best thing that Obama could have done/now do – in the context of everyone, not just himself – is to be happy he’s saved the US from this crisis and do everything he can to show voters that the Republicans forced cuts onto ordinary workers rather than the rich. Obama comes out looking like he did what he had to do to save the country, and Republicans look like a group of spoiled rich boys.

My sentiments precisely. In politics, if not a hero, at least you have to be a good poker player. The Trotskyists at wsws.org are saying as ever that Obama is in league with.. the Great Satan? I think he’s just good at shooting himself in the foot. An intelligent but ultimately deluded (and confused by his upbringing I’d hazard a guess) man. Modern society puts moral cripples in authority alasi

My comment on Twitter was that this is the moment in the Wire when Mayor Carcetti agrees to entirely screw the city in pursuit of his own campaign to become state governor, thereby destroying the last vestiges of trust or hope that you may previously have had for him.

I’m not sure this will kill Obama’s reelection. It will certainly kill any prospect of anything left-wing happening in the US for a political generation.

Sunny you’re assuming that the Republicans (or at least one particular faction of them) would have capitulated. If both they and Obama had stayed tough it wouldn’t be the Republicans who’d be taking the blame and you’d be writing about how Obama had blown his re-election as the country identifies him as being the leader during this massive embarrassment.

7. Conservative Cabbie

“and tax breaks to corporate jets”

Wow! The power of a talking point. Arguably the most inane talking point in the history of politics but one so readily accepted by the left.

It amounts to 0.075% of the projected deficit reduction of 4 trillion that was being touted at the time and would create unemployment in the industry just as the luxury tax on yaqchts did in the 90’s. And for no other reason than to extend one’s class warfare credentials.

America’s debt problems are entirely spending driven, particularly entitlements and with more than 50% of Americans not paying any federal taxes, increasing taxes on the rich would have little impact, nevermind that it would further kill the economy.

Until the US reforms Medicare and Social Security, it will always be in this mess.

“I said last night that it would have been better for Obama, politically, to let the US default. Or at least say he was willing to let that happen unless tax rises were on the table. The polls were positive: if the US defaulted then most people would blame Republic”

Obama as the only American President to ever preside over a default. Hardly his envisioned legacy and a hammer that Republican candidates would be able to hit him with during an election. Only Obama would suffer from a default.

It does appear that he’s not very good at poker or politics, apart from looking and sounding good when talking from a platform.

I’d like to think there was more to him, I’d like to know what his advisors had been thinking. In the end, though, he does look feeble. Carter comes to mind.

“Obama made the decision to put people’s well-being over politics.”

You say that as though you think it’s a bad thing Sunny…..

See, the problem I have with this kind of analysis is that actually this is about people’s well-being. There are real people’s lives being affected, and I think that reality sometimes gets lost with all the political shenanigans going on.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want a political leader who loses sight of that, who treats politics like it’s some kind of game and my livelihood like it’s just some poker chip. I know I don’t get a say in the US elections, but for me – “Obama made the decision to put people’s well being over politics” – yep, that will get my vote every time.

10. Matt Taylor

With respect Sunny, this is utterly triballistic nonsense. Criticising BO for putting national wellbeing above politics is a small-minded, narrow interest, Tea Party-esque view. It is exactly the standpoint that’s led to this situation. You may well be right about BOs poker face but it’s also a truism of the game that you have to know when to be prepared to lose a hand to win the big pot at the end – it’s just too early at this stage to be able to say with any certainty whether this is the case.

Your supposition that the cuts may sink re-election plans is overly simplistic and fails to acknowledge the devastating effects on economic recovery that a downgrade would have. It may well be that the US loses its AAA rating anyway but there’s simply no evidence or reason to say that voters would blame him for cuts but not drain him for rise in interest rates in event of default. They may do both, either or none but your argument doesn’t appear to be rooted in anything approaching facts or evidence, other than the poll you site which, with the best will in the world, cannot possibly reflect how people will feel about the economy in 12 months time.

There is no doubt that he was dealt an extraordinarily bad hand. However, he has done nothing over the last two years to improve the situation. It is just excuse after excuse about Republican obstructionism. The bottom line is the man is a weakling. Absolutely no one is in any doubt who the mug is when everyone is sat around the table negotiating. Therefore, there is never any doubt that he will always capitulate. I doubt whether it make much difference to his re-election prospects. The lack of credible G.O.P. contenders means he is still a strong favourite to win against any of them.

Obama made the decision to put people’s well-being over politics

Why is this a bad thing? Isn’t this what politicians are supposed to do, what people want them to do?

They will get downgraded anyway and will richly deserve to be downgraded. You do not use the nations sovereign debt as a bargaining chip and expect to be seen as a credible triple A nation. A Banana Republic does that not serious nations. The thing is the global financial system is so utterly dependent on US treasuries, that after a few days of volatility it probably will not make much difference to US borrowing costs. Double A will just be the new triple A.

Bill Clinton has said that he would have invoked the 14th Amendment as justification for raising the debt ceiling unilaterally, and dared the courts to stop him.

I don’t accept that Obama put people’s well being before politics, given the extent to which he has thrown ordinary Americans under a bus over this. I agree with Paul Krugman. Obama has a self-image as a centrist who rises above the fray and makes sensible compromises in order to get things done. He thinks that’s what marks him out as a serious politician, and that its what will impress the public. He is wrong on both counts. He needed, like FDR, to take his opponents head-on and to stand up for the principles of his side with as much vigour as they stood up for theirs. That would have put him in the position of speaking for a large amount of ordinary Americans.

Obama won in 2008 and lost in 2010 due to success or failure to mobilise his base. He has an advantage in 2012 because turnout is always higher in Presidential races. The GOP is in a state of dementia where, as in 2008, its ticket is going to have very limited appeal. So Obama is still likely to win, if narrowly. But recent events have shown that this is beside the point.

As Krugman says, Obama might have been a good president in the 90s. But he is the wrong man for this point in history. The tragedy is that this great orator could have seized the post-Lehmann Brothers mood in the earliest days of his presidency and turned it into a transformative moment in US politics. Ludicrously, that victory is now being enjoyed by the right instead.

Obama must now face a primary challenge, either to reverse his rightward lurch, or to replace him with someone capable of effecting that reversal. Too much is at stake to allow this frankly poor president to continue as he is. He was great in theory. He’s proving dismal in practice.

Obama made the decision to put people’s well-being over politics.

I think you missed the words “super-rich” out before “people” there.

The trillion dollars of cuts are not going to do anything for the well-being of the majority of people in the US, other than harm it. Nor are they going to get the US economy out of the deep hole it’s currently in.

(A default on debt would also have been bad, yes. He could have gone all-in himself with any of the various executive solutions – 14th amendment, exploding option, trillion-dollar platinum coins, etc. – that were available to hold that off)

There is now a huge danger these cuts will sink the Presidency next year.

Given that they’re due to be phased in over a decade, that seems a bit melodramatic.

And the thing that you’re missing Sunny is that Obama isn’t going to be running against the Republican Congress next year. Congress is massively unpopular, and has been for years. The best way for any Presidential challenger to run is to run against ‘the Washington machine’. The Republican candidate is not going to be a Senator, and is unlikely to be a Representative (unless it’s Bachmann, in which case Obama wins anyway).

A Governor (say) is in a position to run, basically, against politicians of both parties in Washington and offer to be a new broom. If Obama had let the US default in a squabble with Congress he’d have weakened his re-election position massively. The attack ads write themselves – “On his watch, the US defaulted for the first time in history…”. As it is, he can argue that, despite the broken politics of Washington (etc etc) he acted as the unifying force blah blah blah.

Even in the very narrow partisan terms you’re analysing this on (and really, is it so bad for the head of state to “put people’s well-being over politics”?) he was much better off reaching a deal than not.

17. donpaskini

Agree with other comments – I think the problem is that Obama put politics ahead of people’s wellbeing here.

“Obama made the decision to put people’s well-being over politics.”

Good.

19. Luis enrique

I haven’t read a kind word about Obama in months, and this crap poker player story alternates with the story that he actually wants the outcomes he’s getting, i.e. either a knave or a fool.

I’m finding the uniformity of opinion rather disconcerting, like group think. But maybe he really is just as useless as everyone says he is, Lord knows I don’t feel qualified to offer an opinion.

I liked this one, he lacks experience negotiating with commies and unions:
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2011/07/29/Debt-Crisis-Was-Fueled-by-Obamas-Weak-Negotiations.aspx#page1

Heres a challenge from the left story:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/08/should-elizabeth-warren-run-for-president.html

20. Mr Eugenides

I can’t say I’m surprised that Sunny looks at the standoff from a narrowly partisan viewpoint rather than what is (or was) best for the US economy.

But I don’t think Obama needs to “bid reelection goodbye”. The Republicans standing against him are a pretty shocking bunch, and that’s coming from a stridently anti-Democrat perspective. Half of them are nonentities without a principled bone in their bodies (eg Romney) and the other half are shrill Christianist whackjobs (eg Bachmann). None can reach out much beyond their base.

If Obama’s price lengthens I’d go and stick twenty quid on him.

Its not an automatic loss for Obama in the next election, it depends what kind of swivel-eyed nutcase the Republicans pick as their candidate and which party spends the most money. The more important question is how much power does Obama actually have? Without a Democrat majority in the house is he anything more than an impotent figurehead? Does any President really wield power or is the office (as Zaphod Beeblebrox found out) a showbiz diversion from those who actually have the power: those who have the money. Since Clinton caved in over healthcare and devoted the rest of his period in office to having a good time, Bush was so dumb he couldn’t ride a bike in a straight line or chew solid food and Obama’s achievements haven’t come remotely close to his lofty rhetoric does it really matter who the President is?

Matt Taylor: What “big pot at the end of the game”? 2012? He’s lost that unless a) the Dems can’t find anyone else b} the sane electorate can bring themselves to hold their noses and vote for him and the Republicans are as crap as they were in 2008. (Bush – Palin – even Obama – does anyone see a decline and fall of the Roman empire here?)

Obama may well have a Gaga-style poker *face* – but he doesn’t know how to play the game! Mr Hundal I wish I lived in London and was one of your social circle: I’d like to learn the game!

(Bush – Palin – even Obama – does anyone see a decline and fall of the Roman empire here?)

It’s certainly a come-down from the heady days of, um, Carter, Ford and Nixon.

“…does it really matter who the President is? ”

Nope. The Presidency is a monarchy and the Speaker is a de facto prime minister. With the Senate giving the same representation to five cowboys and two horses in Wyoming as the population of California, that looks suspiciously like a type of House of Lords.

25. Matt Taylor

Liz K: Yes, big pot is re-election. Would agree with you that he probably does need both (a) and (b) you mention to happen as things currently stand. I also think there’s a relatively strong chance of that happening. Can’t see the Dems putting anyone up against him and the Tea Party activists will demand a candidate leans so far to the right that Obama can position himself right of centre and still hoover up independent voters along with Dem supporters with no alternative.

I will never vote for a democrat ever again . NO REVENUE – NO VOTE.

27. Luis enrique

The last para before the bullett points here looks relevant

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/a-deal-that-found-the-lowest-common-denominator/2011/07/11/gIQAde9TmI_blog.html?wprss=ezra-klein

Perhaps this deal signals the end of the need to actually reach an agreement, however. If the Joint Committee fails, the trigger begins cutting spending. If negotiations over taxes fail, the Bush tax cuts expire and revenues rise by $3.6 trillion. Neither scenario is anyone’s first choice on policy grounds. But you can get to both scenarios without Republicans explicitly conceding to higher taxes or Democrats explicitly conceding to entitlement cuts in the absence of higher taxes. Politically, that’s the lowest-common denominator, and that might mean it’s also the only deal the two parties can actually make. But that’s because it’s the only deal that doesn’t require, well, making a deal.

“With the US economy now slowing down, these spending cuts will only exacerbate that slow-down. That puts re-election further out of his grasp.

I said last night that it would have been better for Obama, politically, to let the US default. Or at least say he was willing to let that happen unless tax rises were on the table.”

Umm, we are aware that tax rises and spending cuts are, in fiscal contraction/expansion terms, roughly equal, yes? (Note the “roughly” there).

So if your worry is the immediate future of the US economy, thus no cuts, then you should also be arguing from your worry for the immediate future of the US economy against tax rises?

I’m sorry are most of the people commenting on this not able to understand sentence structure and basic English?

‘The Republican strategy was to indicate quite clearly were willing to go all in. Obama made the decision to put people’s well-being over politics. For that he will pay a heavy price.’

There is nowhere where Sunny says it was a bad thing or mistake to ‘put people’s well-being over politics’ only that it will turn out to be a terrible choice and in the elections he will ‘pay a heavy price’.

I took away from this piece that Sunny is basically arguing because Obama did not go to the brink like the Republicans and play the political game he should have done he has both harmed America and its people’s well-being as well as his chances of election.

Personally I think it just seems that Obama thinks compromise means capitulation and has shown to be incredibly inept at doing the negotiations and the politics necessary to sort this out.

30. Merrymaker

The Democrats will not dump Obama – not the first african american President – it is unthinkable. And Obama can win because of his base. But the Republicans can win if they find the right candidate. That candidate is in the race already. He is Herman Cain, african american, scientist, businessman, right wing but not tea party, lay preacher, and very good speaker.

Having done a bit more reading, Luis is right – this is less of a sell-out than it appears, since the option if no deal is reached next time round is that the Bush tax cuts end and that most of the cuts next time go on military spending rather than social programmes. Impressed by the gentlemen spruiking Mr Cain, who has as much chance of becoming the Republican candidate as Sarah Palin has of becoming the Democrat candidate.

IanVisits: “Regardless of your opinion of which was the correct choice to make in terms of fixing the economy, letting the government default on its debts just to win political points is a bloody stupid thing to do.”

Yes, it would be a bloody stupid thing to do. But the debate’s not really about scoring “political points”, is it? People often get too lost in the political personalities and political tactics (including the lead article, I think, to some extent) to realise this is ultimately about what happens to real people in America. One party here has decided that they’d rather kill the poor people than pay for their food stamps, and that they’re prepared to use the mother of all blackmail tactics – directly threatening the economic survival of billions of people – to achieve that.

Tim Worstall: “So if your worry is the immediate future of the US economy, thus no cuts, then you should also be arguing from your worry for the immediate future of the US economy against tax rises?”

Depends on who the measures target. As I understand it, targeting the poor (as most cuts would) means they have less money to spend. Targeting the comfortably off (as most tax rises would – income or property based, at least) is more likely to mean they have less money to save, or stored in the value of the property they own. To me, that sounds like good grounds to believe they might have different effects.

See, the problem I have with this kind of analysis is that actually this is about people’s well-being. There are real people’s lives being affected, and I think that reality sometimes gets lost with all the political shenanigans going on.

Yes, but this means the Republicans get in next year Cath – how will that help people’s well-being? How will the cuts to Medicare and Social Security help people’s well-being?

They won’t. Obama wasn’t going to win unless he was willing to scare Republicans into thinking he would ruin them. Otherwise they had the upper hand.

In poker, once your opponent knows they have the psychological advantage after forcing you to backtrack – they have the upper hand. They become bolder and more willing to threaten further.

Obama is now in a losing spiral. The only way he can pull back now is to go all in. This is a fuckign disaster.

I also agree with David Wearing above – he should have threatened the 14th Amendment (even if not use it… that would have been dangerous).

Sunny: “I said last night that it would have been better for Obama, politically, to let the US default. Or at least say he was willing to let that happen unless tax rises were on the table. The polls were positive: if the US defaulted then most people would blame Republicans.”

It would not have been better politically. Many of the Republicans do not care at all about defaults: ask Michele Bachmann. Threatening the Tea Party with a catastrophic default on the US debt is like threatening a dog with a trip to an abattoir: it can have no effect because the dog doesn’t know what an abattoir is.

If the US defaulted, well, people might blame Republicans – but so what? We’d all be in the abattoir then.

Paul Krugman’s latest is worth quoting

A deal to raise the federal debt ceiling is in the works. If it goes through, many commentators will declare that disaster was avoided. But they will be wrong.

For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/the-president-surrenders-on-debt-ceiling.html?_r=1

36. Leon Wolfson

Obama has given the Republicans basically everything they wanted. EVERYTHING.

He is going to be, rightly, hammered to heck for capitulating.

I don’t agree that using the 14th would have been that dangerous, given he could of used not-so-old Republican statements for non-partisanship on this issue to defend it.

“Yes, but this means the Republicans get in next year Cath – how will that help people’s well-being? How will the cuts to Medicare and Social Security help people’s well-being?”

There’s two ways of mobilising your base. You can make it seem you’re worth voting for, and you can make the other side(s) seem so awful that your base can’t stay at home. And you’re condemning him for shutting one off while at the same time practising the other?

God knows I think it’s a bad deal, and that it’s about politics not policy, and that it was a huge mistake to concede the, for want of a better word, intellectual argument. But it’s possible you’re condemning a chess player for their lack of ability to bluff.

38. Leon Wolfson

@37 – Riddle me this: If I was a democrat, why would I support Obama for re-election, when he caved over this issue? We may well see another candidate, rather than a two-term Obama.

This “deal” amounts to capitulation, when he had every advantage.

39. Merrymaker

The reason that Obama could not use Amendment 14(4) is that it would put him outside the law.. The relevant sentence, for those who do not have it to hand, is ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, ………shall not be questioned.’. The key clause is ‘authorized by law’, any unilateral extension of the debt limit would not be so authorized, and any debt so created would not have the full force and faith of the United States behind it. Furthemore, the President would probably be in breach of Art1(8), and Art1(9), of the Constitution itself. He would lay himself open to impeachment for not upholding his Presidential oath.

Greg S – thanks, and I completely agree.

But it’s possible you’re condemning a chess player for their lack of ability to bluff.

I don’t think its that difficult to paint the GOP as so bad that Democrats have to come out. But there will still be a big enthusiasm gap which could mean a lot.. especially with younger voters.

We may well see another candidate, rather than a two-term Obama.

Fine. But either the Democrat or the Republican will win, so unless Obama’s replaced by another Democrat in primaries (unlikely, but by all means give it a go), then anyone in their right mind would vote for him in the actual election. I remember the last time people on the left thought the Dem and Repub were the same and therefore voted for a third-party candidate; that worked out well, didn’t it?

43. Leon Wolfson

@42 – With this kind of collapse, which amounts to the Republican wishlist, Obama is more likely to inspire sensible people to stay at home.

The US would not have gone straight to default on debt obligations in the event of not raising the debt ceiling. Nations cut everything before they default on sovereign debt. Rolling-over existing debt would not have breached the debt limit. Social security cheques do not get sent out. Guess who receives a high proportion of those older voters vote? Defence contractors do not get paid. Guess who receives funding from those defence contractors? Medicaid cuts would be harming the G.O.P. base. The G.O.P. base would have been screaming at them just as much as at the President. The trillion dollar platinum coin was a possibility. The absolutely last thing that would have happened is the Treasury did not pay coupons on their debt. Therefore, default was not a serious possibility.

I am not saying any of those things were a desirable way to govern. The political system is pretty dysfunctional when such things become realistic possibilities. However, he had as much leverage over the G.O.P. as they had over him. Yet, he always capitulates and they know it. As Sunny says, allow yourself to be pushed around and it will only increase.

Should have said medicare rather than medicaid.

46. Robin Levett

@Conservative Cabbie #7:

Until the US reforms Medicare and Social Security, it will always be in this mess.

Nope. Social Security is not a problem. It would pay for itself if the other areas of government paid on the IOUs left by them when looting the funds.

Obama has not “capitulated”. That is an absurd misreading of the situation. The negotiations have led to a compromise, where Republicans have not got all they want, ie. large cuts to the federal budget, and nor have Democrats, ie. increases in taxation. The system has worked the way it was meant to. Nor has Obama’s performance hurt his chances of reelection — you could only imagine such a silly thing if you are confusing the mass of Democrat voters with the very small Leftist hardcore that hangs out on Kos and quickly comes to hate every Democrat president for “selling out”. You people need to read a bit more widely and consider how the deal is regarded beyond Democratic Underground and the op-ed pages of the NYT. Pathetic.

Scooby: That is an absurd misreading of the situation. The negotiations have led to a compromise, where Republicans have not got all they want, ie. large cuts to the federal budget, and nor have Democrats, ie. increases in taxation.

But Republicans have got some quite significant cuts to the budget – with the possibility of more later, and Democrats have got … what exactly? You can’t count the debt ceiling increase itself as something the Democrats have got out of it, since “not destroying the US credit rating and breaking the global economy” should be something both sides wanted.

That’s the point, really – it shouldn’t even have been a remotely controversial vote. If “All those in favour of destroying the US economy, raise their hands.” gets the response “I’ll vote ‘no’ to the economy destroying if you cut spending on education, but otherwise it sounds like a good idea.” then something is very seriously wrong.

And you think that’s the system working as it should?

49. Leon Wolfson

@47 – Really? Look at the demands of democrats and republicans 6 months ago. The D’s have nothing, the R’s everything. Capitulation and surrender.

50. Conservative Cabbie

@Robin Levett

Re Social Security

By 2017, social security outgoings exceed revenues, by 2041, the trust fund will be entirely depleted. I’d suggest that represents a problem long term.

But Republicans have got some quite significant cuts to the budget

Many of the Republicans wanted no increase in the debt ceiling, ie. not a cut of $1 trillion over 10 years, but a cut almost as big in ONE year.

and Democrats have got … what exactly?

A continuation of the entitlements that are bankrupting the country, ie. the status quo — despite the country sending them a very strong message in November that the status quo was no longer acceptable.

And you think that’s the system working as it should?

Yep. It’s called “checks and balances”, it aims to foster moderation and compromise, and it’s apparently something all but incomprehensible to those living under the “elective dictatorship” prevailing in the UK.

You are viewing Obama as making mistakes because you are misinterpreting his motives. He is an even more right wing and corporatist Tony Blair plus, whose only motives are to preserve the sickening fantasy land enjoyed by his tiny cabal of real sponsors (sociopaths).

@41 – Be fair. I never said he was a good chess player.

Hang on, if there is one thing that has always been clear about Mr Obama it is that he does care. And the effects of hitting the absolute debt cealing would surely have been more immediate and (if Sunny’s analysis is correct – I would not necessarily agree) more drastic than phased cuts. So, it is probably the human Mr Obama (not the machine-like ideal poker player, who wierdly never gets elected…) that caused this decision.

If you play politics as poker (or chess) you end up trapped in a little box of rules of your own making, seeking points rather than the good of others (or even yourself). It appears that if nothing else we have learnt Mr Obama can still see beyond the box of the game and remember there is a real world out there. There seems a reasonable chance that the people in the real world will look back and see someone they can still vote for as well, as he has failed to become part of the game to the exclusion of all others.

55. Robin Levett

@Conservative Cabbie #50:

By 2017, social security outgoings exceed revenues, by 2041, the trust fund will be entirely depleted. I’d suggest that represents a problem long term.

Read this blog post and subsequent comments for a discussion of why the fact that Social Security needs reform is not inherent to the Social Security system, but because the Treasury has milked its trust fund to pay for other spending. Essentially, SS taxes were set in the 80s to exceed current spending, to build up a surplus to cover the baby-boomer generation retiring. That surplus was however not put aside, but used to finance current (non-SS) spending, and government bonds issued for the balance. Now that SS outgoings are starting to exceed SS tax receipts, the bonds need to be redeemed; the cost of redemption is used as an argument for downgrading SS benefits and the SS system blamed.

56. Robin Levett
57. Robin Levett

@Scooby #51:

and Democrats have got … what exactly?

A continuation of the entitlements that are bankrupting the country

The tax cuts for the rich? You’ll find that the Dems were actually opposed tio them continuing.

If not that – to what are you referring?

The tax cuts for the rich?

Oh ha ha, I see what you’ve done, you’ve pretended to interpret “entitlements” as referring to the “tax cuts for the rich”. If that’s a joke, it’s so very clever and amusing. Or perhaps it’s simply that you are not familiar with the common terminology that Americans use in their budget debates?

59. Robin Levett

@Scooby #58:

So if you were not referring tot ax cuts, then (to quote the question from my previous comment which you seem to have ignored):

If not that – to what are you referring?

You see; if I see someone simply repeating Republican talkjng points, I tend to react in kind, but do allow for the fact thats someone is merely misinformed. Perhaps though you can actually respond with some analysis of where the US budget deficit actually came from?

60. shockwaver

robin #55. you are correct.
let me re-express your thought in more realistic language:
ss cash has been spent. ss is pre-approved to either print or borrow money until 2041 when they will have get new approval to print or borrow money.

61. shockwaver

large numbers tend to paralyze the mind so we cannot appreciate them for what they really represent.
a stack of one-trillion $1 bills would be 67,000 miles high.
for those of you who like the metric/euro system, 1.6 dollars (US annual deficit) worth of euro coins would form a stack 2.5 million kilometers high. roughly 10 times the distance from earth to moon.
the US is engaged in economic insanity any way you cut it.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://bit.ly/pxystp

  2. Liz K

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://bit.ly/pxystp

  3. Naadir Jeewa

    .@sunny_hundal overestimates presidential power here http://j.mp/rcNlcN

  4. sunny hundal

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama can bid re-election goodbye. He is rubbish at poker http://bit.ly/pxystp

  5. Liz K

    RT @libcon: With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/Yy7UtOl Yes, Sunny, now I've read it: THIS!

  6. Robert Oram

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://bit.ly/pxystp

  7. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye: Every week I play poker and every week t… http://bit.ly/p0IYGx

  8. Sean Gittins

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama can bid re-election goodbye. He is rubbish at poker http://bit.ly/pxystp

  9. Owen Blacker

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama can bid re-election goodbye. He is rubbish at poker http://bit.ly/pxystp

  10. What's in a name?

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://bit.ly/pxystp

  11. A leek

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/rOp141p via @libcon

  12. Paris Gourtsoyannis

    Of course, they should feel stupid right now, especially over stuff like the last line of this: http://t.co/Z9c3LR0 @libcon @sunny_hundal

  13. TP recommends...

    Obama will pay a big price for putting people's wellbeing over politics, predicts @sundersays http://dld.bz/aj7Ad

  14. Anthony Barnett

    RT @libcon: With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/hC36tqq

  15. mark a williams

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://bit.ly/pxystp

  16. Lorraine Janectic

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/BJ6kQCG via @libcon

  17. Nicola Chan

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://bit.ly/pxystp

  18. sunny hundal

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/sh8cJPs

  19. Luke Bozier

    There is some sense in this. RT @sunny_hundal With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/t0DGnn6

  20. DPWF

    #Obama's unwillingness to risk everything did force this dreadful deal. But I disagree with http://t.co/jpv9PG6 . He can still win in 2012.

  21. Paul Sandars

    There is some sense in this. RT @sunny_hundal With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/t0DGnn6

  22. steve davies

    Obama putting the people before politics a bad thing says @sunny_hundal in extraordinarily poor analysis. http://t.co/UUtz3yc

  23. Andy S

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/sh8cJPs

  24. Soho Politico

    Take this (http://t.co/t6n3EAT) from @sunny_hundal, or this (http://t.co/t6n3EAT), via @anthonypainter.

  25. Samuel Seaford

    With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/iRRKdi0 #UKuncut is lucky UK not making drastic cuts like the US

  26. Robert CP

    http://t.co/Ei4w3EJ I usually agree with Sunny on Liberal Conspiracy, but this article on the debt deal in the US is just silly.

  27. Stephen

    We'll see.
    RT @sunny_hundal: With the debt-ceiling deal, Obama bid his re-election goodbye http://t.co/cUULCynz





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