How You (Yes, You) Won the Budget Wars

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 12 2013 9:50 AM

How You (Yes, You) Won the Budget Wars

My latest piece, reported on the Hill this week, explains how Congress decided that punting on everything budget-related was a virtue; that there was no point in another showdown with high stakes meant to force a "grand bargain." It's largely the story of the deficit shrinking, Democrats denying Republicans any shot at entitlement reform, and Republicans—who would never admit this—realizing they needed to stop looking like the antagonists who were ready to inflict massive casualties to force through spending cuts. It is a massive victory for Democrats, who took Social Security and Medicare cuts out of the conversation after two years of "Washington" insisting that they needed to happen.

And it's also the funeral of Fix the Debt. No one's taking selfies at this bash. Fix the Debt, the iconic "just use this current panic to cut entitlements" pressure group, spent at least $43 million to influence the conversation. Its reward: bupkis. Shortly after the budget deal's parameters were known, Fix the Debt issued one of its standard five-paragraph press statements full of repetitive rhetoric.

To be clear, this deal falls well short of what is needed to deal with the nation’s fiscal challenges. It will have only a marginal impact on the debt and it does not tackle the difficult choices we will have to make. It does not address the growth of entitlement spending, provide for tax reform, or help target government spending away from consumption towards more productive investments. It does not even put in place any further steps to help deal with these challenges in a timely manner.
Advertisement

Four more grafs of that. If liberals want to thank anyone for the stasis that killed debt mania, they should thank the conservatives who held out on a 2011 bargain and the consultant class that did basically nothing with all the money provided by debt-hawk business interests.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.