How Obama Blew It

Liberals aren’t happy with the debt deal: Paul Krugman says it “will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.” How did we end up here? Jon Chait at The New Republic lays out President Obama’s strategic errors. First, in December, he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts without demanding a debt-ceiling increase then and there, even though some commentators were urging him to do so at the time; as a result, Republicans were able to pass a deficit-increasing measure and then foot Obama with the blame. Then, in the spring, Obama should have refused to negotiate when Republicans began voicing concerns about the debt ceiling; instead, Obama agreed to include it in debate. Finally, he actually believed Republicans would agree to new revenues. Chait says Obama ended up with a “horrible piece of legislation,” but also “about as non-bad as it could have gotten.”