Fighting on multiple fronts

July 28, 2011

Sarah Posner is not impressed by the latest
faith-based-coalition effort to prevent lawmakers in Washington from
sacrificing the nation's poor on the altar of deficit hawkery:

The reason why Democrats are losing, as [Harold] Meyerson
and others have pointed out, is that they have relented to
using the Republican Manual of Economic Destruction, which holds, essentially,
that the national budget is just like your family's household budget and
balancing it must become a national fetish, regardless of what the economists
say; and budget cuts, not tax revenues, are essential for balancing the budget
and thus jump-starting the economy. Luckily the Democrats haven't yet adopted
the Alfred E. Newman approach to the consequences of a default.

Praying now that Congress won't cut programs for the poor
is so far behind the curve that it's like asking that the genie be put back in
the bottle -- the deficit hawk genie, which the Democrats have stupidly let
out.

Meanwhile, the religious right plays the long game. . . .
The free market zealots are happy to have the religious right believe that the
government should stay out of God's and your (financial) business, and so are
the mega-corporations and banksters profiting off the backs of not just the
poor, but the middle class as well.

Yes, Obama and other Democrats
have already conceded the big-picture argument on the economy: we're talking about deficits when we should be talking
about jobs
. And it's true that the right has shored up a long-term
strategy to push for smaller government as the priority that trumps all
others--a strategy that needs to be forcefully opposed.

But economically vulnerable
people need all the advocates they can get in the short-term, too. At this
point, there's no politically plausible way around the fact that a debt-ceiling
increase is only going to come packaged with deep spending cuts.

Like Posner,
I'm inclined to keep shouting that the whole conversation reflects staggering
concessions to small-government ideology. But I'm glad that inside-the-beltway
faith-based groups are focused on what's immediately possible. The struggle for
a just and fair society exists on multiple fronts, and we've got a long way to
go.