As painful as the "fiscal cliff" melodrama was to follow, I'm relieved by the outcome in the deal Congress approved on New Year's Day.
First and foremost, we got through 2012 with no cuts in benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A win's a win. And that was a win for the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
Unemployment benefits got extended.
The Bush tax cuts were ended for those making over $400,000/yr. ($450,000 for households) and preserved for everyone else. Obama could probably have got the $250,000 cutoff point he campaigned on, but that's a win, too.
It's also good that we "went over the fiscal cliff" at midnight on December 31. This is what base Democrats had been saying the President should be willing to do to maximize his leverage. It wasn't until that happened that the House Republicans got enough out of the way to let the deal go through.
In other words, the combination of the circumstances and players forced Obama in the end to act like a Democratic President and get a deal that a Democratic President who just got re-elected by a solid margin should have gotten.
I suppose some Obama loyalists would insist that was his game all along. But it's pretty clear to me that he had to be dragged into doing that against his will.
But a win's a win. And I'm happy it wound up with an actual win.
Tags: austerity economics, barack obama, fiscal cliff, grand bargain, medicaid, medicare, social security