Media Proclaims Debt Deal To Be Good And Virtuous Because No One Is Happy About It

08/01/2011 01:25 pm ET | Updated Oct 01, 2011

Elyse Siegel contributed to this article.

So, what does the "debt ceiling deal" mean for the ordinary American? In the wake of yesterday's decision to end the fake hostage taking and save America from the "default" that everyone was pretending was in the offing, despite furtive promises from all parties to Wall Street that everyone was just kidding about that, you would think that today the media would be doing the best it could to measure the impact of the decision on ordinary Americans. But that will have to wait, apparently! Instead, today is going to be given over to a grand debate over who hates this rotten deal (that they're going to vote for anyway) the most.

Be assured: as much as [insert name of political party] hates the deal, the good news is that [insert name of the other political party] hates it just as much. Or so everyone is saying! And that, we are told, is this deal's signature virtue.

the idea that the deal is good because both the so-called left and right don't like it ignores the real Q: is it actually a good deal?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


@samsteinhp I think the left and the right both dislike syphilis, so I guess the "good deal" is to infect everybody with it.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Here's David Axelrod, for instance:

"In the short term, everyone suffers politically," Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said in a recent interview. "In the long term, I think the Republicans have done terrible damage to their brand. Because now they're thoroughly defined by their most strident voices."

"I know this agreement won't make every Republican happy. It certainly won't make every Democrat happy, either," Reid added. "Both parties gave more ground than they wanted to. And neither side got as much as it had hoped."

And you can count on this, from MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, becoming an essential feature of the media narrative:

"So many people are saying that the sign of a good compromise is when both walk away a little bit disgruntled because neither side is getting what they want."

I don't know who the "so many people" are, in this circumstance. I suspect it is "Beltway reporters and pundits." From their perspective, the deal must be good because it "forces" members of Congress to do the job they were elected to do, through "triggers." It is also good for them because they can spend a day on their typical mystical bullshit, like whether Mitch McConnell "won" or "lost" the debate.

But all of this punts away the more relevant discussion: is the deal actually good for the country? There, the discussion is limited. It's constantly being pointed out today that the deal avoids default. But let's remember that "default" was just pretense -- both sides made assurances to Wall Street that it was never going to happen. And even if there was a remote possibility that we would default on our obligations, why is it considered a good thing that in the end, our leaders decided against destroying the global economy.

Hey, everyone, I've decided that I'm not going to come to your house tonight and burn it down! Isn't that "reasonable" of me?

We're also told that now, everyone has proven that they're serious about solving "America's debt crisis." Really? The primary drivers of that debt -- like foreign wars and revenue-sapping tax cuts -- are still around. Yes, Bush birthed these drivers, but Obama's kept them alive.

But the more important point is this: do you want to know where America's debt crisis is actually located? It's found in millions of households across America, where families have to sit at the table, consider their unemployed spouses and children and siblings and parents, and struggle to figure out basic things. Like, who is going to get to have a doctor's appointment this week? Who gets to have college tuition this year? Are we going to be able to stay in our home? Are we going to keep on eating?

That's where America is in crisis. That's our Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. Our leaders have just spent months ignoring it, and our media has fully endorsed the wasted time.

And for ordinary Americans, the reward is that we didn't default on our obligations to pay for what these same lawmakers had already bought! That's your prize, America. You don't even get a consolation prize, like the "Debt Ceiling Negotiations Home Game."

Do you remember a more innocent time in your life where you thought the purpose of legislating was to ensure positive-sum outcomes for ordinary Americans? Those were great times! Now the purpose of legislating is to ensure the widespread negative-sum outcomes for as many elected officials as possible, as long as they're not so negative as to imperil their reelection. You will hear, over and over again, that President Obama is a "big winner" because he proved that he can be an "adult" and "stand up to his caucus" and demonstrate "seriousness" about "deficit reduction," which will impress "independent voters."

It just might work, so long as those "independent voters" are somehow not cognizant of the massive unemployment crisis!

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