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Did anyone score political points in debt ceiling debate?

August 8th, 2011 8:05 am by Staff Report

As a noun meaning:
1. A settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions; or something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
2. A concession to something derogatory or prejudicial.
(From Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Politics is often referred to as the “art of compromise.” If so, where was that artistry in the debate over raising the debt ceiling? Each time President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, seemed to be nearing a compromise on the issue, ideologues in their respective parties pushed them farther apart.
While leaders of both parties stressed the importance of reaching a deal on the debt ceiling before Tuesday’s deadline, neither side wanted to relent to the other’s demands.
A breakthrough finally was made Sunday with Obama and congressional leaders agreeing to a plan to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion and includes $917 billion in spending cuts over 10 years with an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts to come later in the year from a select committee of members of Congress.
Vice President Joe Biden congratulated Obama on hammering out the deal by tweeting: “I’m proud of the President. Persistence. Compromise makes a comeback.—VP.”
The president was more reserved in his analysis of the deal, telling reporters at a news conference before Congress voted to pass the measure: “Now, is this the deal I would have preferred? No. I believe that we could have made the tough choices required — on entitlement reform and tax reform — right now, rather than through a special congressional committee process.”
Obama did get one of his demands met in the deal. The compromise means he will not face another debt ceiling crisis until after the 2012 election.
Republican leaders said they are hopeful the agreement on raising the debt ceiling will lead to more tax cuts in the future. Boehner also assured members of his caucus that no tax increases would be on the table in talks to further reduce the federal debt.
“When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted,” Boehner told CBS News. “I’m pretty happy.”
Other GOP leaders were equally happy with the deal. “Finally, Washington is taking responsibility for spending money it doesn’t have,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told his colleagues before the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26 on Tuesday. On Monday, the House approved it by a comfortable 269-161 margin.
So the president and the Congress finally came to a compromise on the debt ceiling issue. But at what cost?
Critics on both sides say the deal is little more than window dressing. Conservative Republicans say raising the debt ceiling should have included more spending cuts. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, believe the president should have fought harder for tax increases on the wealthy.
Meanwhile, tea partiers say they are proud to have forced a showdown on the debt issue, but are far from happy with the outcome.
And many Republican candidates for president derided the debt ceiling compromise as a mistake. The party’s two leading candidates — Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — said they opposed the move.
We’d like to hear what you think. Did anyone score political points in the debt ceiling debate?
You can “Sound off” on this topic by sending your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or
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We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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