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Media Analysts and Pundits Respond to Mixed 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Media Analysts and Pundits Respond to Mixed 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal

As you surely know by know, after much huffing and puffing and threats, enough Republicans in the House (about one in three) ended up backing the Senate’s “fiscal cliff” bill to get it passed by a comfortable margin. House Speaker John Boehner and Representative Paul Ryan ended up backing it, whiile Representative Eric Cantor and other hard-rightists opposed.

For starters, here’s a colorful Politico account of Boehner twice telling Harry Reid to “Go fuck yourself!” twice last Friday, just steps from the Oval Office, and then bragging about it to his colleagues. Politico also suggests Reid feels Obama has given away too much leverage now.

Joe Scarborough this morning wondered how the GOP could have “mismanaged” the whole affair any worse. By the way, from the other side of the spectrum, MoveOn.org sent out a mass e-mail near the end asking members to call Democratic Congress members and ask them to vote no.

I’ll be posting reactions to the new bill and the upcoming debt ceiling crisis all day here, so look for adds below.  And have you heard the rumors about Boehner either stepping down as Speaker or likely losing in his bid to continue?

Here’s the NYT editorial posted before final vote hitting Obama for “tepid” stands and too much compromising out front. And the paper’s Peter Baker quotes several complaints from “the left” here. Amy Davidson of The New Yorker wonders why no one (not even the Repubs) gives a damn about dropping the payroll tax break. Frank Rich on the "circus" just beginning, thanks to the GOP's "radical right."

Paul Krugman at his blog weighs in on final results.

So why the bad taste in progressives’ mouths? It has less to do with where Obama ended up than with how he got there. He kept drawing lines in the sand, then erasing them and retreating to a new position. And his evident desire to have a deal before hitting the essentially innocuous fiscal cliff bodes very badly for the confrontation looming in a few weeks over the debt ceiling.

If Obama stands his ground in that confrontation, this deal won’t look bad in retrospect. If he doesn’t, yesterday will be seen as the day he began throwing away his presidency and the hopes of everyone who supported him.

And now Krugman has posted again on a “bad ceiling feeling.” Bob Kuttner at The American Prospect declares, yes, the Dems did “win big.” But:

The trouble is, Congress and the president are waging the wrong debate. The debate they are having is about how to cut deficits and debts. The right debate is how to get a strong recovery going.

Ezra Klein tweets: “Best part of fiscal cliff debate: coining of “sleep-deprived octogenarians” as a derisive description of the US Senate.”  And now he's written a "Calm Down, Liberals," piece.

Dean Baker, the progressive economist, writing at The Guardian, has his doubts about Obama holding firm in the crucial next two months of talks.

Given his track record, there is little doubt that President Obama can be trusted to make further concessions, possibly involving social security and Medicare, in negotiations on the debt ceiling. Oh well, at least we can laugh at the experts being wrong about the fiscal cliff “Mayan apocalypse”.

Norman Solomon calls the deal, now hit by many in GOP, as a fantasy come true for them if you consider what they wanted not long ago. Dashiell Bennett at The Atlantic is not thrilled, and also hints the GOP snit led to no vote on Hurricane Sandy relief.

Finally, because Congress spent all of its time since the November election fighting over this non-deal, it has neglected several other important issues. Late last night, the House refused to vote on a $60 billion relief package for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, meaning that much-needed money will not show up at least until the new Congress convenes later this week. That bill may eventually get worked out, but it wasn’t a good way to end the 112th Congress. Or considering their record-level of inaction and incompetence, perhaps it’s the perfect way.

Our own John Nichols explains why some progressives refused to support the deal.

Greg Mitchell is the author of more than a dozen books on politics, history, nuclear issues, capital punishment and media. His latest, on the Obama-Romney battle, is Tricks, Lies, and Videotape.

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