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What the “Fiscal Cliff” Deal Portends for the Upcoming Debt Ceiling Fight

Huffington Post

Here’s the official White House agreement fact sheet on the deal (PDF).

While the White House is claiming official victory, there seems to be no shortage of Democrats who think the President blinked and left them in a weak position for the upcoming fight over the debt ceiling.

Brian Beutler reports about an “unease among Democrats that Republicans will treat Democratic concessions in the fiscal cliff fight as an indication that the Obama administration lacks the resolve to stare the GOP down in a debt limit fight…. A senior Democratic aide said some members have ‘diminished confidence’ in the administration’s willingness to stare down the Republicans in two month’s time.”

The HuffPo says that “Coming out of the meeting with the vice president late Monday night, many Senate Democrats conceded they were displeased with aspects of the deal but agreed with the vice president’s larger point.”

Krugman calls Obama the “conceder in Chief.”

MoveOn says “We just finished an election in which the American people made clear that they want the wealthiest 2% to finally pay their fair share of taxes, but this agreement fails to meet that test. Voters gave President Obama a mandate to end the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. He has not delivered.”

Even the ever-faithful Noam Scheiber says “I think the president made a huge mistake by negotiating over what he’d previously said was non-negotiable (namely, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000). Then the White House compounded that mistake by sending Biden to “close” the deal when Harry Reid appeared to give up on it. As a practical matter, this signaled to Republicans that the White House wouldn’t walk away from the bargaining table, allowing the GOP to keep extracting concessions into the absolute final hours before the deadline.”

Not exactly the glowing headlines one wants for resolving a manufactured crisis.

There is some joy to be taken in the fact that nobody was able to harpoon the elusive white whale of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and that somewhere Pete Peterson weeps.

But we are, as the HuffPo notes, in a permanent state of “cliff crisis” now.  Timothy Geithner says the debt limit has once again been reached, and Peterson can take solace in the fact that Obama’s resolve not to negotiate with Republicans over the debt ceiling is indeed just as strong as his commitment not to negotiate over taxes for the rich.


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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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