Reid Signs Off on Emerging Debt Deal to Widespread Disgust

Democrats call this GOP's 'total victory'

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Senator Reid has signed off on the latest incarnation of the debt-ceiling agreement pending caucus approval, the Wall Street Journal reports. Here’s the outline of the debt ceiling deal as of now, according to officials on both sides, and courtesy of the Journal's live-blog:

* $900 billion in the first stage of deficit reduction.

* $1.5 trillion in second stage of deficit reduction to be defined by a bipartisan special committee of lawmakers appointed by leaders of the House and Senate.

* If the special committee fails to deliver a deficit-cutting package, it would trigger $1.2 trillion in cuts, [half-defense, half-non-defense] from Medicare, exempting low-income programs Social Security and Medicaid.

* The debt ceiling increase would be done in three phases: $400 billion initially; another $500 billion later thise year would be subject to a vote of disapproval; a third increase of $1.5 to get the rest through 2012 and would also be subject to vote of disapproval.

* There is also a provision to have Congress vote on balanced budget amendment.

* The special committee would not necessarily tackle tax reform. But Mr. Obama is threatening to veto any extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 a year or more unless Congress acts on an overhaul of the tax code.

Another, more detailed outline of the emerging deal is at Talking Points Memo. So how does everyone feel about this? Pretty badly, it seems. Speaking with reporters Sunday, Sen. Carl Levin criticized President Obama, TPM reports. He said the bill avoids default in a way that assures deep spending cuts over the coming decades -- but provides no guarantees of higher tax revenues. Perhaps that will give Democrats a political advantage, but, Levin said, "in the meantime there's a hell of a lot of damage done to average people in this country. I don't know of too many people, I hope, that are willing to have a political advantage at the price, at the expense, of people we represent."

And let's not forget the bill still faces House approval. The Journal reports that House Speaker John Boehner appears to be "balking" at the deal. According to TPM, "Republicans were unhappy with the notion that the enforcement mechanism would contain a one-to-one match of domestic and defense spending cuts -- they want spending cuts to be lowered."

But this struck many as surprising because if anyone thinks their representatives have given away the house, it's the Democrats. New York Times editor Andrew Rosenthal seemed to echo the sentiments of many when he tweeted, "There is nothing for GOP to complain about. Seems like total victory." Charles Krauthammer likewise indicated, "The winner here is the Tea Party."

As far as House Democrats are concerned, according to Reuters, Pelosi said they will meet on Monday to determine how to proceed in the debt deal. She said,"We all may not to support it, or none of us may be able to support it." Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva released a starkly-worded statement on the emerging deal, where he said, in short, that he despised it:

Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands. Progressives have been rallying support for the successful government programs that have meant health and economic security to generations of our people. Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus.

And those are just politicians. Glenn Greenwald posted on Salon the "Democratic politics in a nutshell," which is, in his words:

[I]t makes no difference to us how much we stomp on liberals' beliefs or how much they squawk, because we'll just wave around enough pictures of Michele Bachmann and scare them into unconditional submission. That's the Democratic Party's core calculation: from "hope" in 2008 to a rank fear-mongering campaign in 2012. 

Blogger and journalism school professor Jeff Jarvis tweeted the hashtag "#HillaryForPresident" and retweeted from John Forsyth, "House Democrats agree to give their Republican counterparts a massage 3x a week ." TPM took the Hilary Clinton comparison one step further, and asked readers if they wished she was president in light of the latest deal. One responder said, "if [Clinton] mounted a primary challenge at this point I would caucus for her."

But perhaps the widespread disgust is best expressed in pictures. Dave Weigel of Slate tweeted: "REVEALED: The Democrats' lead debt negotiator" with this picture:

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