Some good news from Obama

The debt-ceiling fight has been the dominant story out of Washington for weeks, and for the most part the White House hasn't looked too good. But in the last few days, the administration has taken some serious steps forward on other fronts. In case you missed them amid the craziness:

  • Last week, the president announced an agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the auto industry to boost Corporate Automobile Fuel Economy standards to an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The proposed CAFE standards reflect a compromise with the industry; still, it's a massive improvement.
  • Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a set of new guidelines for health insurance: starting a year from now, all private plans will be required to cover preventive services for women's health without a co-pay or deductible. Bill O'Reilly's sexist objections aside, this will do a lot to increase access to contraception--and thus reduce unwanted pregnancies.

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The new "norm"

One of the consequences of the past purile legislative behavior is that it tends to set the bar as the new norm.

As Steve points out the tide will reverse and the Democrats will justify the reprise of the behavior with the phrase, but that is what the Republicans did. And they would be somewhat right. If those actions are acceptable for the Republicans then they ought to be acceptable for the Democrats. (or vise-versa).

This calls to mind the parental adminishment from childhood which states "just because your sibling was bad does not make it OK for your to be bad too (substitute "behave poorly" if "bad" is too blunk/frank/judegemental.)

Alternatively one might use the "Golden Rule". If one subscribes to that standard and I suspect that the Republicans in congress would not repudiate it, their actions in and of themselves become a statement of how they would like to be treated in the future.

While I have tended to single out the Republicans in the above, this issue transcends party boundries and applies to either side of the proverbial aisle.

OBAMA AND THE RIGHT AND CUTS AND TAXES

Not allowing for revenue (i.e.: tax) increases was a self-defeating move on the part of the Right.  You see, at some point the Left will be in exactly the same position the Right is in now.  i.e.: a Republican will be President and that President will need to raise the debt limit ceiling.  (Even with the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan the debt ceiling needed to be raised many, many times before enough savings kicked in to ease back on the debt ceiling!)  When that happens, when the Left holds sway over the ability to raise the debt ceiling, an increase that the Right desperately needs to protect the “Full Faith and Credit” of the country, guess what the outcome will be?  There will be only tax increases and not one cent of spending cuts.  Not that this is a good way to run the country.  It is the era in which we find ourselves.

I don't think that will

I don't think that will happen--spending cuts poll far better than tax increases, at least in the abstract. And Obama, Pelosi and others have made it pretty clear that they're interested in raising taxes only on incomes >250k, which is a good idea but doesn't amount to all that much revenue in the grand scheme of things. I think the Republicans are counting on the Democrats not being willing to play hardball at this level, and I think they're correct. The Democrats could get some major policy concessions by threatening to let ALL the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of next year, but they're not likely to do so.

More fundamentally: at present, the Republican party is ideologically dominated by opposition to government spending. The Democratic party is a patchwork of a broader set of positions and concerns, only some of which involve higher taxes.

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