The first is just incomprehensible:
The 2012 budget: At one point in the negotiations, the 2012 budget was to be slashed by $36 billion. The final number of cuts: just $7 billion. And just to ensure we don’t have another bruising government shutdown fight over cuts in September, the deal deems and passes the 2012 budget. Yes, that’s right, the old Gephardt Rule or Slaughter Solution, is back. What’s deem and pass? It’s a legislative trick that essentially means that Congress will consider the budget passed without ever actually having to vote on it.
Maybe we should be thankful that we don't have to go through another budget fight in which we see Democrats fold on all of the progressive principles we're supposed to hold sacred, but it's hard to see how "deem and pass" is a victory for liberals, much less the nation. Better would be an actual, transparent fight. Which Congress apparently doesn't do any more.
She has a better argument on this one:
The trigger: This is counterintuitive, but the trigger is actually pretty good for Democrats. For all that MoveOn thinks that it would force benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, it actually wouldn't trigger benefit cuts to any entitlements. The only cuts it would force would be a 2% or more haircut for Medicare providers. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with most Democrats, has never opposed provider cuts. Not only that, most progressives actually want the Pentagon cuts. So if the committee deadlocks and the trigger is pulled, Democrats won’t be miserable.
That's, of course, assuming that the Republicans actually accept this deal and proceed as if it were in effect. There's nothing to stop them from introducing separate defense spending to reverse those automatic cuts. Think they won't pull the "support the troops" card to force the Senate and White House to go along with it? Me neither. Of course, that's also assuming the Catfood Commission II doesn't act, and with the mood they're in now, good luck protecting the social insurance programs. On this, I think Economic Policy Institute president Lawrence Mishel's analysis is more on point:
House Speaker Boehner has already suggested that the Republican delegation will be unwilling to support tax increases or revenue-raising tax reform. If so, this would simply continue the one-sided approach to deficit reduction, and would place Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits at great risk. This is all the more true since domestic spending will already have been substantially reduced as part of the initial cuts. Consequently, this new process is likely to lead to a very unbalanced fiscal policy approach.
That holds true for the triggers and for her next point, the Catfood Commission II, which she says we need to stop "carping" about. She says revenues will be increased. She apparently hasn't been paying attention thus far.
Her fourth point is that the cuts that are happening immediately aren't as bad as they could be. Which is indeed a silver lining if you have to have cuts, and ignore the fact that we have high long-term unemployment and a stalled recovery. Somewhat tied into this is her fifth point, that we avoid default and lift the debt ceiling without having to have the fight again before 2013. Except, as David Dayen points out:
The deal sets discretionary spending caps to achieve deficit reduction. Those are ceilings; they’re not floors. When we get to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, House Republicans are going to want to go below the cap. They will have another hostage-taking event on the FY2012 budget. I don’t see why they won’t take it.
We're not avoiding a hostage-taking situation by once again giving into the terrorists. It'll only bring them back to the well. But, ultimately, the larger loss is to the long-term economy and to the larger argument for government. As dday says, this shifts the playing field "away from a sober, factual telling of our economic problems and toward a fantasyland scenario, where deficits are the big problem the economy faces and business confidence will bring it back." It shifts the argument away from the idea that the government can and does do good things for the nation.
None of that should be celebrated by liberals. "Not as bad as it could have been" isn't the measure by which to judge this deal.