Well, that was close. In the end, President Obama got the only thing he really wanted out of the prolonged cage match over the debt ceiling: He got it off his plate for the next election. From my New York Post column today:
Then there was one. With the Senate’s tabling of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s debt-reduction deal yesterday afternoon, the only game in Washington is a nearly $3 trillion, two-stage compromise plan worked out between the White House and congressional Republicans.
The details were emerging last night, but one thing is clear: Both sides can claim victory, and both sides can blame the other guy for taking so long to come to terms. But the real winner here is President Obama. He stands to get the only thing that really matters to him — the troublesome issue off the table until after the next election, since the debt-ceiling argument wouldn’t be revisited until 2013.
It’s not hard to understand Obama once you grok that the only thing he cares about is himself and his continued residence in the White House through 2016 — after which he’ll be free to make millions and millions of dollars (maybe even trillions!) doing that post-presidency thing. The man is riding the greatest gravy train in the history of both trains and gravy, and you can’t blame him for not wanting to get off any sooner than he has to.
Still, the Republican leadership looks ready to declare victory: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that the incipient deal “is going to produce what many people would believe is a complete change in the trajectory of the federal government beginning to get spending under control.”
Maybe. But no one comes out of this as well as Obama — who, to have any hope of winning re-election next year, desperately needs to get his wretched stewardship of the economy onto the back burner.
This deal may let him to do just that.