Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist senator from Vermont, voted against cloture on the Reid version of a debt ceiling dea. I say good for him! (I don’t like the filibuster, but as long as it exists we can’t leave it to only one side to use). The Reid bill was a bad deal – and the one they apparently agreed to on Sunday afternoon (July 31) is even worse. It makes cuts in important social service programs, reputedly including Medicare, and threatens to cut Social Security in the next round.
As Greg Sargent pointed out today in his Washington Post blog, “The Plum Line,” this deal is a huge victory for the Republicans in general and the Tea Party in particular. Why were they able to win so big? Because they, unlike the progressives, were willing to risk catastrophe in order to get their way. I think it’s time for progressives to respond in kind.
For the last few days Wall Street bankers have been all over Congress telling them they have to raise the debt ceiling. Congress is going to listen to them — the Republicans in particular. So it’s Wall Street that should have to make some concessions.
Let’s not worry about taxing the rich. That will happen anyway, automatically, in just over a year when the temporary tax cuts expire. Instead, the essential point is no cuts! (Or maybe cuts only from getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq.) There is absolutely no need to include any deficit-reduction measures in a debt-ceiling vote. They are different issues, and should be handled in separate bills. This is nothing but an attempt by the minority party to impose its will on the majority, and it should be resisted.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, has vowed to fight the deal and called for the obvious alternative: a “clean” vote on raising the debt ceiling, with no conditions attached. Leave it to Wall Street to get the Republicans in line, rather than trying to buy the latter off with cuts on social services. That’s the way to go.