the Great Society
The big difference between the budget compromise put forward by Senator Harry Reid last Friday and the version that came together on Sunday is that the Reid bill met the main demand of each party: For Republicans, there was no mention of tax increases. For Democrats, there were no cuts to entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). All the cuts would come from the category of spending known as discretionary, where Congress decides each year what to spend.
My post about the anti-deficit lobby prompts Paul Krugman to conclude their whole posture is a ruse: As he says, it makes no sense — unless you consider the possibility that the anti-deficit lobby doesn’t really care about deficits. If you believe that its real agenda (not always consciously) is to dismantle the welfare state, with deficit fears as the excuse, then the seemingly bizarre positioning makes perfect sense.
David Brooks, in his column last week, bemoaned the failure of President Obama and Paul Ryan to meet over lunch and get to understand each other: President Obama and Paul Ryan are two of the smartest, most admirable and most genial men in Washington. It is sad, although not strange, that in today’s Washington they have never had a serious private conversation.