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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Time Enough For Counting When the Dealing’s Done

So the federal government didn’t shut down, and the appropriations deal that was cut disappointed many Tea Party types (particularly those focused on defunding family planning) and probably even more progressives, with the latter being particularly upset by White House boasting over the level of spending cuts involved.
But just about everyone understands the bigger fight over the long-term budget is a much bigger deal, with the possibility of a rejection of a public debt limit increase being the hand grenade Tea Party allies are threatening to unpin.
This is the point at which tactical retreats by Democrats will stop making much sense. And for that reason, there is already heavy grumbling among Democrats about reports the White House is going to soon release plans for a deficit reduction strategy that includes “entitlement reform.”
The key thing to watch for is whether the administration consistently links changes in entitlement programs (sure to fall far short of the kind of toxic “reforms” being proposed by Paul Ryan) to tax increases for the wealthy. So long as they do that, and Republicans continue to oppose revenue increases as a theological matter, then talk of “betrayal” or “surrender” is simply wrong. Sure, many progressives prefer a different strategy based on out-front, unambiguous opposition to any change in entitlements. But that’s not the same as asserting that anything less is no strategy at all.

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