Aug. 5th, 2011

By Christopher Sprigman, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.

First President Obama said he wanted a “clean deal,” one raising the debt limit without condition. The GOP said no. Then Obama demanded that any deal include both cuts and revenue increases. To soften GOP opposition, he offered $4 in cuts for every dollar in new revenues, but everyone could see he was negotiating with himself, and the GOP responded by rejecting any new revenues. Next was a proposal of all spending cuts, no tax increases, in return for the GOP’s agreement to grant enough borrowing authority to last through the 2012 election. Again, the GOP refused. Every time the GOP dug in, the president retreated. And he never explained to the American people in plain language the reason for Republicans’ intransigence — that they would rather the United States default on its debt than oblige the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of the tax burden.

Which brings us to the final deal — about $2.5 trillion in cuts, no new revenues and the certainty of another debt battle before the 2012 election. The GOP has prevailed on all fronts.

But the real problem is deeper. From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, Democrats created and vigilantly protected a system that provided decent retirement and medical benefits for the elderly, and basic medical care, food and income assistance for the poor.Read more... )

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