If you’re gaming out what’s likely to happen during the next fiscal showdown a few months from now, there are two ways to interpret the legacy of the cliff episode, which ended when the House approved the McConnell-Biden compromise last night. For Democrats, the optimistic take-away is that the two parties set up a mechanism for getting deals done, which is roughly as follows: First, the White House works out a compromise with Mitch McConnell, which passes the Senate with a bipartisan super-majority. This effectively isolates the House GOP and tells John Boehner the game is up.
IN SEPTEMBER of 2011, a fortyish budget connoisseur named Maya MacGuineas was feeling demoralized. She couldn’t believe that Congress and the president had nearly let the country default on its debt rather than reach a major deficit-cutting deal the previous summer. So she did what she had become unofficially famous for in the wonk circles of Washington: She threw a glamorous dinner party. MacGuineas’s friend, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, agreed to open his Alexandria estate to a coterie of bold-faced names.
It’s hard to overstate liberals’ sense of relief that Obama is finally negotiating like someone who’s encountered a deck of cards once or twice in his life. It wasn’t just the hard-ass opening bid he made last week—$1.6 trillion in revenue, higher tax rates for the top two percent, $50 billion in infrastructure, extended unemployment insurance, money for mortgage modifications… all in exchange for about $600 billion in spending cuts.
The Republican candidate really did think he was on track to become president. These poll numbers explain why.