See Where That Got You

In the midst of a meditation at TNR on the apparent opportunism of the Obama administration second-term legislative agenda, Todd Lindberg makes a point about the appropriations sequester that makes a lot of sense:

On the legislative front, Obama has a narrow Senate majority that can’t readily break a GOP filibuster on a matter of policy, and he faces a GOP majority in the House that is implacably opposed to his agenda, more or less whatever it might be. Obtaining any legislation from the 113th Congress would require accommodation with these two realities. The question for the president, then, is whether compromise legislation that accommodates the balance of power in Washington is better than no legislation at all. Politically speaking, it’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that the answer is no, compromise isn’t worth it. Compromise, recall, is what brought us the sequester, which the GOP seems to like a lot more than Democrats do.

Indeed, the sequester, which will hang on perpetually for the foreseeable future through appropriations bills, will serve as a continuing reminder that expecting responsible behavior among Republicans on fiscal matters can be a big mistake. There will inevitably be more bipartisan deals between now and the time Barack Obama leaves office, even if, as it is reasonable to assume, divided control of government persists beyond the 2014 midterms. But big fiscal deals, short of the kind of “grand bargain” that repudiates Republican anti-tax dogma once and for all? It’s less likely than ever.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.