Today I read two very different opinions on the deal to raise the debt ceiling and find myself in some agreement with both.
I quote below only some of what each had to say, but I recommend following the links and reading both short essays in full; neither requires more than a couple of minutes.
A reader of the Talking Points Memo website who calls himself "RW" suggests that President Obama negotiated a not-bad agreement under the circumstances:
Let me get this straight. The President kept revenues on the table, did not touch the sunset provisions in the Bush tax cuts, ensured that military cuts keep the GOP honest, protected Medicare by adding in only provider cuts in the trigger, made the reduction apparently enough to stave off a debt downgrade, got the debt ceiling raised, wounded Boehner by demonstrating to the world that he is controlled by the Tea Party caucus, took out the requirement that a BBA be passed and sent to the states and got the extension through 2012? What exactly is wrong with this deal? [...]
The GOP came out of this looking unreasonable--I've been getting E-mail messages from friends saying they are back with the Democrats because the Tea Party is "destroying this country." Nate Silver tweeted last week that local conservative talk radio in Kansas was filled with callers attacking the Tea Party! The Wall Street Journal ran two editorials which called the GOP delusional and "childish." The vaunted GOP message discipline broke down--I read stories all over the "inside baseball" papers here in DC where GOP House members went on the record after the Friday vote wondering out loud if the party had been damaged! I don't know if you noticed, but John Boehner spent last week negotiating with himself. No new proposals came out from the Dem side, but he produced two proposals, one of which he had to pull after he didn't have votes. A congressional Dem staffer told me his dad, an urban Catholic who voted for Nixon over Kennedy and has always voted Republican suddenly thinks the GOP is out to lunch and supports the President. [...]
On the other hand, economist Paul Krugman is seriously annoyed:
A deal to raise the federal debt ceiling is in the works. If it goes through, many commentators will declare that disaster was avoided. But they will be wrong. [...]
Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker. [...]
What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.