Paul Krugman acknowledges that President Obama and the Democrats won a tactical victory, but he frets about budget battles to come.
So why are many progressives — myself included — feeling very apprehensive? Because we’re worried about the confrontations to come.
According to the normal rules of politics, Republicans should have very little bargaining power at this point. With Democrats holding the White House and the Senate, the G.O.P. can’t pass legislation; and since the biggest progressive policy priority of recent years, health reform, is already law, Republicans wouldn’t seem to have many bargaining chips.
But the G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit — which could cause a financial crisis. And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions.
Now, the president has said that he won’t negotiate on that basis, and rightly so. Threatening to hurt tens of millions of innocent victims unless you get your way — which is what the G.O.P. strategy boils down to — shouldn’t be treated as a legitimate political tactic.
But will Mr. Obama stick to his anti-blackmail position as the moment of truth approaches? He blinked during the 2011 debt limit confrontation. And the last few days of the fiscal cliff negotiations were also marked by a clear unwillingness on his part to let the deadline expire. Since the consequences of a missed deadline on the debt limit would potentially be much worse, this bodes ill for administration resolve in the clinch.
That is very true, but the one thing that we need to remember is that President Obama is opposed by a group that is made up mainly of psychopaths. Republicans don’t care about the economy as long as they can stick it to the Secret Gay Kenyan Muslim Socialist.
It’s the equivalent of the scene in the last ten minutes of any cop drama where the desperate bad guy is holed up in an abandoned warehouse and the SWAT team has the place surrounded. It never ends with everyone walking away unscathed.