Winners and losers: policy edition - Ezra Klein
The Big news: GOP throws Defense to the wolves in favor of retaining tax breaks and cuts. Moderates and center right Conservatives who were staying only because they thought that the GOP was still tough on Defense have no reason to stay with the Republicans anymore, the Tea Party is tossing the military on the chopping block.
There have been a lot of lists ranking the political winners and losers in the debt deal (Chris Cillizza has a good one here). But what about the winners and losers in the policy? Turns out there are plenty of those, as well. In particular, there are plenty of losers. So let’s start with them.
The Pentagon: A year ago, defense spending was supposed to be sacrosanct. We even had a term of art for how to cut spending without touching defense: “non-defense discretionary spending.” But no one takes it on the chin the way the Pentagon does in this deal. They’re getting $350 billion in immediate cuts and then, if the trigger goes off, another $600 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. They’ve also been jammed into a structurally dangerous position: With taxes off the table, defense cuts have become the concession Republicans can give Democrats in these deals. If that dynamic holds over the next few years, this may not be the last time the Pentagon gets the knife.
The unemployed: In the 2010 tax deal, Democrats managed to expand and extend unemployment benefits through 2011. This deal lets them expire at the end of the year. That means that barring some later rescue, $60 billion in support for the jobless will evaporate Dec. 31, 2011. That’s not only a huge blow to the uninsured themselves, but it removes some much-needed economic support from a teetering economy. Speaking of which