Re: The Budget Deal: Take The Broad View

Steve: Reread what I’ve been saying about the budget deal. I’ve never said the Republicans should’ve shut down the government, and I recognize that doing so would’ve caused political blowback (but not as much as some seem to think).

My point was, and is, that the Republicans made a significant tactical and strategic blunder when they announced, before the onset of negotiations and repeatedly thereafter, that they wouldn’t shut down the government under any circumstances. You don’t improve your bargaining position by taking your primary bargaining chip out of play from the get-go. The eventual abysmal result does nothing to disprove my point.

Moreover, the Republican performance on the CR increases the likelihood that the Democrats will call the Republicans’ bluff in the future. Displays of weakness are rarely rewarded in bargaining, or most other aspects of politics.

Finally, I’ll take your point that perhaps I’m a bit too hard on the GOP, and I agree that the Democrats have vulnerabilities in the next rounds. But I’ve been watching serial Republican capitulation, miscalculation and preemptive surrender for decades — miscalculations and surrenders that, in part, have gotten us into a titanic financial mess with a colossal, intrusive, ever-expanding government.Yet with each of these miscalculations we’re told we should wait until the next confrontation — that there’s a long-term strategy at play. I think it’s healthy and necessary for conservatives to give Republicans a verbal cuffing when they screw up, if for no other reason than to sharpen their performance the next time.

The Republicans won a huge victory in November (yes, yes, I know they control only the House) in part by promising big cuts. I’ve been around long enough to  not expect much from such rhetoric. But they  promised $100 billion in cuts, and all we got was a lousy T-shirt saying the deal might actually turn out to be a spending increase. An energetic reaction to that isn’t quite an overreaction. Under the circumstances, it’s almost complacency.

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