The talking heads are all over the debt-deficit reduction deal announced by President Obama, earlier this morning. Both houses of Congress have still to vote on it so we will have to wait to see if it makes it to the president's desk for his signature by tomorrow, the so-called deadline to avoid default.
There are no tax increases in the deal, no closed loop-holes, and only $1.7 trillion in cuts. The heavy lifting is apparently being left to a bi-partisan committee of 12 Democrats and Senators, to find another $3 trillion in cuts, prior to a date in November, in order to prevent even more significant cuts to the military and to medicare.
Has Obama caved to the Tea Party? In the short run, perhaps.
However, in the long run, it will be relatively easy for the White House to demonstrate that it was the Tea Party who held the possibility of a deal hostage to their "principles", a more appropriate word would be "pig-headedness." No group of elected representatives can be permitted to host the congress hostage to their single, non-negotiable, self-righteous, immature demand that they will only vote for a hike in the debt ceiling if a similar amount of cuts are removed from federal government spending.
These bills have already been contracted by the U.S. government, and no one expects to go to the credit card companies after the purchases have been made and say, "I'm not going to pay for those items that I purchased!"
That is effectively what the Tea Party is expecting the Congress and the President to do, retroactively, at a time when government spending is the only potential path to a jobs recovery, given that thousands of corporations are sitting on billions of undeployed cash, because they believe there is too much uncertainty in the marketplace.
And, it is those very Tea Party congressmen and women who have created all this uncertainty. Over seventy times the debt ceiling has been raised since John Kennedy was president, and never was there such a melodrama as this.
Let's hope that, come 2012, the election campaign is filled with truth-telling and finger-pointing to these political gun-slingers whose capacity to walk and chew gum at the same time is questionable.
It is the Republican party that harbours these air-heads, and it the Republican party that must be held accountable for their victories, and for their unabashed irresponsbility.
And the president is very likely to lose a big chunk of his party's left wing for what they will see as caving to that irresponsibility and immaturity.
The New York Times today calls Obama a "diminished" president; we will be watching to see if he can and does regain some of his former political lustre over the next fifteen months.