Elite-Pundit Deficit Frenzy Just Like “Run Up” To Iraq War

Dave Johnson

The “Grand Bargain” is about showing the world that we can hurt people, so they will know we are “serious.”

Reading Jason Linkins’ HuffPo account of elite-pundit thinking about the “Grand Bargain,” Passing ‘Grand Bargain’ Voters Don’t Care About Is Critical To Confidence In Government, Apparently, I am struck by the similarity between the (elite pundit) Joe Klein quote Linkins references, and the elite-pundit thinking about invading Iraq.

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein — who is confident that Congress will agree to a “grand bargain” — says that people like me who contend that voters don’t place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

In other words, Klein is saying the elite punditry has made such a big deal about something we all know is the wrong thing to do, that the public has to see us follow through — “take significant action” — or they’ll lose confidence in the country’s ability to make things happen following a pundit frenzy like this one.

Now let’s remember the words of elite pundit Tom Friedman on why invade Iraq.

Tom Freidman, on Charlie Rose, May 29 2003: (link is CS Monitor, Thomas Friedman, Iraq war booster),

“And what we needed to do was to go over to that part of the world and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically uhm, and, uh, uhm take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble. And there was only one way to do it because part of that bubble said ‘we’ve got you’ this bubble is actually going to level the balance of power between us and you because we don’t care about life, we’re ready to sacrifice and all you care about is your stock options and your hummers. And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad uhm, and basically saying which part of this sentence don’t you understand. You don’t think we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy we’re going to just let it go, well suck on this.”

Friedman said we had to invade Iraq so the world can see that we can use our immense power to hurt people there. Because Iraq is in “that part of the world.”

Joe Klein says we have to do the Grand Bargain to show the world that we can use our immense power to hurt people here, too.

That’s balance for ya.

The “Grand Bargain” is about hurting regular people (“shared sacrifice”) who have been sacrificing since Reagan. The rich have gotten tax cut after tax cut. Their corporations get breaks and subsidies. Wages have been stagnant since Reagan broke the unions, but prices have gone up. People used up their savings, then went into debt. Meanwhile government services for We the People have been cut, cut, cut. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our transportation and electrical and other systems are just a mess. The safety net has collapsed. College has become unaffordable. Poverty is soaring and the middle class is disappearing.

So now regular people have to “sacrifice” to pay off the money the government borrowed to give the rich their tax cuts and subsidies. That’s the “Grand Bargain” in a nutshell.

P.S. Please read Linkins’ piece, it’s short. Linkins concludes,

” … a deal that will further immiserate Americans with painful cuts to earned benefit programs (like chained CPI) at a time when everyone’s still struggling to get by. Why anyone thinks this would restore the public trust is beyond me. Pundits really need to get out more.”

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