In the New York Times this morning, Paul Krugman vents the frustration that many progressives have been feeling during the past 30 days. Though he’s right about the economic substance (of course), he’s overlooking that the President had a losing hand at the time the deal was made. Ezra Klein this morning reports that, in the final analysis, Democratic legislators were unwilling to see a default to get a better deal, while the House tea-party Republicans — reckless and poorly informed as they have shown themselves to be — were absolutely willing to blow up the country to advance their cause. The final deal that emerged — as unsavory as it is — is about what one would expect to see given this disparity in motivation between the two sides.
That the President could have done more earlier to avoid this is a fair criticism. But, having failed to do that, he got as good a deal as could be expected. The lesson to take away is that Democrats have grass-roots spadework to do. As I have argued previously, we need to tell the truth about the extreme nature of the tea-party Republicans, explain about the Norquist coalition’s long-term plan to decimate government. We should no longer take for granted, as we have been doing for years, that the advances of the Great Society will always be with us. They won’t. Not unless we fight for them. More people need to start to sing out between now and the election. Perhaps this deal is the wake-up call we need.