So Congress has agreed to $900 billion, and later $2 trillion+ of spending "cuts," which doesn't actually mean cuts of course, but cuts relative to a steeply rising baseline. The government will still be spending well over $3 trillion and, I think, well over its historic average even as a share of GDP. Most of the cuts are spread out, in good Keynesian fashion, into the later part of a ten-year horizon. It's very moderate; it's really not enough. Steep tax hikes are already scheduled: first, the expiration of the Bush tax hikes; second, Obamacare taxes; but the deal doesn't add any more tax hikes, for now. Which makes sense in a recession. The rich continue to pay most of the taxes, but unfortunately, the government is still giving massive handouts to farmers and seniors that dwarf the benefits to the neediest Americans, who of course are well enough off by international standards that it's rather mystifying what the underlying philosophy could be of those who think it's compatible with justice, if handouts are to be given to anyone, that they be given to any native American rather than be channeled abroad. Meanwhile, as usual, the most regressive policy in the world, immigration restrictions, continue to shut out the poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the truly-deserving truly-poor, in order to protect the wages of American high school dropouts. This is not, by a long shot, the end of government. The government is still there. It's still big, really really big, and bad. But it's been trimmed a little bit. It's a little bit closer to being of manageable size. Disturbingly, as in the 1990s, it took a political crisis-- then a shutdown, now something like a threat of default although it was really only a threat of shutdown-- to rein in runaway government spending and restore something like fiscal sanity so the economy could have room to grow. But it didn't actually come to that, and now we have a deal, modest and inadequate, but a step in the right direction.
So far, so good. But now, look at what people are writing about it:
The Tea Party's War on America (New York Times):
You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them.
These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people. Their intransigent demands for deep spending cuts, coupled with their almost gleeful willingness to destroy one of America’s most invaluable assets, its full faith and credit, were incredibly irresponsible. But they didn’t care. Their goal, they believed, was worth blowing up the country for, if that’s what it took.
Washington Chain Saw Massacre (Maureen Dowd)
Even before Emanuel Cleaver, the Democratic congressman from Missouri, called the debt deal “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich” and Nancy Pelosi tossed in a side of “Satan fries,” the whiff of sulfur was rising from the Capitol...
Most of the audience staggered away from this slasher flick still shuddering. We continue to be paranoid, gripped by fear of the unknown, shocked by our own helplessness, stunned by how swiftly one world can turn into a darker one where everything can seem familiar yet foreign.
“Rosemary’s Tea Party,” an online commenter called it.
If the scariest thing in the world is something you can’t understand, then Americans are scared out of their minds about what is happening in America.
As William Friedkin, the director of “The Exorcist,” observed 27 years after Linda Blair’s head spun 360°, horror movies, like Hitler, pose a chilling, unanswerable question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The horror director Brian De Palma once described the simple essence of his genre: “There is just something about a woman and a knife.” But, in this case, it was the president — and the federal government — being chased through dim corridors by a maniacal gang with big knives held high.
Where's the accountability for these insane slanders? Of course we have free speech in this country, and people should be allowed to say this, but public opinion should be decent enough that there is a de facto tolerance to calling legislators exercising their constitutional powers in response to the demands of the electorate in perfectly legal fashion "terrorists." Who are the people to whom the New York Times can publish this stuff without immediate cancellations of subscriptions? What happened to those people's sense of civic decency?