Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Talking About Talking

Digby is worried that President Obama’s meeting with the leaders from the House and Senate this week on the budget and debt ceiling will not end well.

The “bipartisan fiscal commission” agreed on nothing and issued no report. If they couldn’t get a consensus among that small group, it should have been a clue that there is no consensus about doing this at all. It would appear that the lesson they did learn was that they needed to attach doing what they wanted to a catastrophic event so as to foreclose any real debate and just “git ‘er done.”

Moreover, the much touted “balanced approach” at the moment is 83% spending cuts to 17% phony loophole closings and subsidy eliminations. But hey, if people want to believe that’s a fair deal, who am I to argue? You’ll have to pardon me if I skip the celebration on this one.

What is clear to me and has been since last December’s budget deal that kept the Bush tax cuts in place is that we would get to this point as well. The kinderspiel of this back-and-forth was as predictable as this summer’s heat wave, and here’s how it’s going to play out: the talks will go on in private with the occasional leak from some underling in some strategically-placed House or Senate member that gives us a tantalizing tidbit of the battle of words going on behind closed doors. It will be fed to a panting press corps desperate to feed something to the talking head doing the stand-up in front of the White House, and we’ll get “developing news” breaks every time they notice that the ratings are beginning to sag.

The talks will go down to the wire, a deal will be struck, neither side will be happy; someone’s going to get screwed, but the debt limit will be raised. Both sides will claim victory and immediately plan to use it as a campaign issue for the 2012 election, which was the whole point of this exercise anyway.

Overlooked in all of this will be the simple and stark fact that neither side is willing to really doing anything but trim it around the edges. No one is going to do anything serious about the deficit until after the election next year. If then.