President Obama has not yet signed the $2.4 trillion debt hike into law, but already conservatives are plotting how best to maximize their gains and minimize their losses from the debt deal. As House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Sean Hannity last night, “This bill brings discretionary spending next year lower than it is this year. That’s never happened before.” That is a concrete victory for limited-government conservatives, but a qualified one. The real drivers of our spending problem, the big three entitlement programs, are left completely untouched by the first round of cuts.
And there is little chance that the “Super Congress” committee of 12 created by the bill will produce any meaningful entitlement reform. Democrats have already made their entitlement priorities clear: Social Security and Medicaid are off the table completely and only cuts to Medicare providers are possible. These “reforms” will only drive up the cost of health care for non-government dependent Americans as health care providers continue to make up for government price controls by shifting costs to private payers. And then there is the very real possibility that the Super Congress could recommend tax hikes as well.
Conservatives are quickly realizing their best option is to appoint only committed anti-tax advocates to the Super Congress, let it die an anonymous death, and then take their limited-government case to the American people in 2012.
Around the Bigs
The Washington Examiner, House passes debt limit bill as Gabby Giffords makes dramatic entrance: Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who was horribly wounded in a shooting in January, made a dramatic entrance to cast her vote in favor of raising the debt limit last night. The bill passed 269 to 161 with 95 Democrats voting yes and 66 Republicans voting no.
The Wall Street Journal, Economic Worries Douse Relief Rally: Investor relief that a government shutdown was averted brought only brief relief to the stock market yesterday. Just 30 minutes after markets opened a weak manufacturing report sent stocks lower. Many are now talking about the possibility of a double-dip recession.
The Washington Examiner, Obama’s debt deal disappoints supporters – again: President Obama’s liberal Democratic base appears demoralized by the deal he struck with Republicans to raise the debt limit. Seeing a Democratic president take taxing the rich off the table and instead push a deal that will lead to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefit cuts is like entering a bizarre parallel universe,” Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told The Examiner.
The Wall Street Journal, Tea Party Sees No Triumph In Compromise: Since the deal did not contain a Balanced Budget Amendment or vastly larger budget cuts, some Tea Party members are also disappointed in the deal: “”People are saying, ‘These tea partiers, aren’t they wonderful, they are changing the conversation,’” Ellen Gilmore, a leader of the LaGrange Tea Party Patriots in Georgia told The Journal. “Well, we got absolutely squat—except for the conversation.”
The New York Times, Small City, Big Debt Problems: Central Falls, R.I., became the latest victim of government union greed. The city was forced to declare bankruptcy yesterday after years of agreeing to union contracts with police and fire fighters that the city simply couldn’t afford.
The Wall Street Journal, Health-Care Companies Are Infected by Severe Case of Washington Jitters: Health care providers are already feeling the pain from Democrats war on Medicare-provider reimbursements. The debt limit deal could cut billions more from Medicare payments to providers and last Friday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced they were already cutting payments to skilled nursing facilities by 11.3 percent. Analysts say the cuts will have a devastating impact on nursing homes.
The New York Times, Insurance Coverage for Contraception Is Required: Following recommendations by an expert panel, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new mandates yesterday forcing all health insurance policies to pay for government-approved contraceptives, without co-payments or other charges.
Romney: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finally came out against the debt limit deal yesterday. Romney’s statement turned out to be the only one that Team Obama ended up responding to. Bill Burton, President Obama’s former aide who now runs Obama’s Super PAC PrioritiesUSA, said of Romney’s position: “Though he claims to support cut, cap and balance, Romney’s real position is better described as wait, waffle and wimp-out.”
Perry: According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now a solid second behind Romney, 22 percent to 18 percent, with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., falling to third with 16 percent.
Pennsylvania: According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, the debt limit fight has killed Obama in the Keystone State. Romney now holds a 44-42 percent lead over Obama, reversing a seven-point Obama edge form June.
Human Events John Hayward suggests Republicans run on The Bill Clinton Budget in 2012: “It would simply require the United States government to adopt Bill Clinton’s final budget from 1999, and hold government spending to that level over the next ten years.”
The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol looks at the defense spending numbers in the debt deal and concludes: “1. If this deal governs policy for the next decade, it will be hard for the U.S. to remain the sole superpower. 2. This is the best day the Chinese have ever had. 3. This deal embodies a vision of America in decline.”
At The Corner, James Capretta advises Republicans on their next move: “Under no circumstances should the GOP appoint members to the joint committee who are willing to entertain tax increases. If the Democrats on the committee insist on tax hikes as a condition for approval of a plan, then the Republicans should be prepared to let the clock start ticking toward the automatic cuts that would go into effect next year.”
Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum admits most Americans don’t believe in liberal ideas: “No matter how many times we try to kid ourselves with one poll result or another, liberals just don’t have that advantage. The public is mostly in favor of raising taxes on the rich — though I suspect its support is pretty soft — but on the bigger issues they mostly aren’t on our side. They think deficits are bad, they don’t trust Keynesian economics, they don’t want a higher IRS bill (who does, after all?), and they believe the federal government is spending too much on stuff they don’t really understand. Conservatives have just flat out won this debate in recent decades, and until that changes we’re not going to be able to make much progress.”
Salon‘s Steve Almond sums up liberal frustration with Obama: “Every time Obama opens his mouth, what comes out is a bloodless, abstract drone. The central failure of his presidency has been one of rhetoric. In the interest of appearing reasonable, he comes across as feckless and pliant, a weak man who can’t (or won’t) speak in the urgent moral terms his historical moment demands.”
The New York Times Nate Silver says the debt deal is not as bad as liberals are making it out to be: “The bill, in short, is not likely to have a profound effect on the recovery in the near-term.”