The Debt Deal: Democrats

By YeOldeScribe ~ August 24th, 2011 @ 12:07 am

Programs the government offers are amazing and tend to do amazing things. The government offers money to military veterans to do all kinds of things: go to college, seek mental health counseling and even provide for their basic needs. The Federal Government is also responsible for our National Parks system, maintaining our country’s national treasures and historical landmarks. The Feds also offer wonderful programs for low income or future 1st generation college students through a program called TRiO, which our author happens to work for in the summer. And yes, the government also gives money to seniors and retirees through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

These programs are all amazing. And yet at the same time, they all cost amazing amounts of money (especially when you add them all up). And by amazing amounts of money, we mean more money than you will ever make in your lifetime. In 2008 alone, Medicare cost $600 billion to run, or roughly 20% of our nation’s budget. So when Democrats passed sweeping changes to health care and opposed any cuts to entitlement programs, they didn’t do themselves any favors when taking into consideration the new Tea Party friendly political climate.

Before the Crisis

The biggest argument against the Democrats was their sweeping changes to health care when they, along with President Obama, ramrodded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. You can go online and find billions of different numbers on how much the program costs, but there’s no denying it that no matter how you slice it, the program is expensive.

(Let’s ignore for a second that the program is entirely self-funded. Yeah, bet you didn’t know that! Despite all the whining and complaining Republicans are doing about the bill, saying “Obamacare will cost our seniors” and “Obamacare is driving our country into economic ruin”, not only is the program self-funded, it will save the government money, according to the non-partisan CBO. Let’s also ignore that Uwe Reinheart – an opponent of the bill – stated that “Even if the budget office errs significantly in its conclusion that the bill would actually help reduce the future federal deficit, I doubt that the financing of this bill will be anywhere near as fiscally irresponsible as was the financing of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.” Let’s ignore all these things and pretend that the money is coming directly out of the pockets of the average American, because that’s what the Republican propaganda machine has made us all think.)

Other than that, the Dems actually didn’t do much over the last year to put us in this mess financially. The other major actions by the Democrats included a repeal of DADT, ratifying START treaties and providing funds to 9/11 victims, all of which cost little or no monies in the grand scheme of things. Most of their failures come from failing to take advantage of their super-majority when they had it, and failing to get their side of the story out. We’re not sure why the Democrats were able to shove through PPACA but not be able to pass a Federal Budget or repeal the Bush Tax Cuts when they had the chance. And we’re also not sure why Democrats allowed their landmark PPACA program to be labeled as Obamacare and why they didn’t defend it more after they had passed it. The Dems could have fought harder, pointing out that the program increases coverage while generating money and taxing the super-rich and super-greedy. Instead, they let the program become the biggest wrecking ball in the history of modern politics, and their power came crashing down in one fell swoop.

During the Crisis

Here’s where we place most of the blame on the Democrats. See, they just didn’t do a great job of coming together as a party and working with the President. For the vast majority of the time, it almost seemed they the White House and the Democratic Congressmen and women were working against each other. While Obama was willing to make concessions, for a long time it looked like the Democrats were more than willing to play the stubborn child role like the Republicans were doing and essentially create a high-stakes game of chicken. In fact, the meetings between Obama, Reid and Boehner were more like the three sides trying to agree on things rather than just Republicans and Democrats fighting against each other. Then, just as was the problem with Republicans, Democrats couldn’t agree on what to concede and how much to concede. Many House Democrats ended up voting “No” on the deal because they wanted either no or minimal cuts to entitlement programs, and they felt the deal went too far.

What it Means

The biggest thing to note is the rift between Obama and Congressional Democrats. That’s a huge problem for Obama, because if he doesn’t have Democrats to back him up, his chances for getting anything noteworthy done in the next year is zero. We don’t think there’s actually that big of a divide, though. Another possible rift would be between the hyper-liberals and the moderate liberals. But the divide within the party is even smaller than the one between Obama and Democrats – and certainly smaller than the divide between Tea Baggers and Republicans with brain cells.

As for what the deal means specifically for Democrats, it shows that in their next budget, they’re going to have to give up even more than they’ve done in the past. America has taken a ride on the Tea Bag express, meaning budget cuts and reduced spending will be the norm for the foreseeable future. Democrats would be wise to attempt to slow down the train by showing how fiscally responsible they can be, something that should be easier for them than their Republican counterparts, surprisingly.

But, just like we said yesterday, it means we’re in for an ugly year in politics as both sides of the aisle try to find their identity before they present who they are to the masses in the 2012 elections. That outlook doesn’t change no matter what your political affiliation is.

 

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