Who's to blame for the phony debt deal on Capitol Hill last week? In op/eds today Americans are treated to alternative narratives for the recent debacle. First comes Paul Krugman at the New York Times who asserts:
…let's not have the usual declarations that both sides are at fault. Our problems are almost entirely one-sided — specifically, they're caused by the rise of an extremist right that is prepared to create repeated crises rather than give an inch on its demands. …
The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn't whether we'll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized.
Over at the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson argues:
The conventional wisdom holds that Republicans, hostage to the Tea Party, prevented a larger and more "balanced" deal by their rejection of any tax increases — ever. Not so. It's true that Republicans were unbending on taxes and, at times, reckless in their rhetoric. It's also true that, even with sizable spending cuts, tax increases will ultimately be needed to balance the budget. But it's not true that only the right blocked a more comprehensive agreement.
Although Obama said he was willing to trim "entitlements" — presumably, Social Security and Medicare — he never laid out specific proposals or sought public support for them. There was more talk than action. Even if Obama had been more aggressive, he probably wouldn't have carried most liberals, who adamantly oppose cuts. They regard Social Security and Medicare as sacrosanct. Not a penny is to be trimmed from benefits.
This is an extreme, even fanatical stance.
In other news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more than 300 points right now.