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‘The Big Win’?

5:22 PM, Aug 1, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I understand the debt ceiling deal is probably going to pass. I’m not even comfortable unequivocally urging members to vote against it, given all the real loyalties and future relationships and competing responsibilities actual members have to deal with. And I’m not sure I’d urge anyone to vote against it if he were the 51st or 218th vote, because I don’t know that one could adequately manage, either in the real world or the political one, the consequences of “default.”

Still, having said all that, it would be good if Republican leaders stopped making bad arguments for the bill. For example, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said this afternoon,

In my experience throughout the last couple of months—I have been involved in a lot of discussions surrounding this issue—from day one this Administration has been insisting that we raise taxes in order to solve this problem. The big win here for us and for the American people is the fact that there are no tax hikes in this package.

That’s the big win? The last Congress—a Democratic Congress—didn’t raise taxes. The president signed a bill last December—when the Democrats were still in charge—holding tax rates steady, and apparently taking tax hikes off the table for the next Congress. If there had never been any negotiations, if there had been a clean debt ceiling increase, taxes would still have been off the table. Now, because of this deal, they’re now potentially back on the table for the supercommittee report in November.

No tax hikes is a good thing. But it’s not exactly a big win. And over $20 billion of defense cuts in FY2012, from the Ryan budget that House Republicans voted for three months ago, is a big loss.

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