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Debt Deal Avoided Disaster but Fixed Nothing

That was too much even for the anti-tax, anti-spending Wall Street Journal editorial page, which also chided the Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.)-Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) wing of the GOP for refusing to recognize the victory it had won.

In the meantime, the debt deal does not solve the debt problem. Unless the 12-member super committee it created performs miracles, there will be no systematic attack on the rising costs of entitlement programs and health care or an overhaul of the tax system.

An August crisis was avoided, but a Thanksgiving-Christmas mini-crisis is likely. That’s when the committee is likely to deadlock over entitlements and revenues, triggering mandatory across-the-board domestic and defense spending cuts.

But those cuts won’t take immediate effect and may well be undone by the new Congress and (perhaps) the new president elected in 2012.

The voters are legitimately not happy with the spectacle they’ve just witnessed. A CNN poll showed that by 77 percent to 17 percent, voters said politicians acted more like “spoiled children” than “responsible adults.”

That poll showed voters disapprove of the deal itself, 52 percent to 44 percent, and hold Republicans more responsible for it than Obama, 43 percent to 34 percent.

Forty-six percent approve of Obama’s performance in the debt negotiations, compared with 30 percent for the Republicans.

But Obama is likely to suffer if unemployment stays high — as seems certain — and he is being compared to failed President Jimmy Carter, even by some of his friends.

He could still win in 2012 — but only because the public distrusts the Republicans more than it does him.

With the economy mired in stagflation, Carter became mired in pessimism and lost in a landslide to an optimist with a plan — Reagan. Obama’s only hope may be that the GOP has no Reagan.

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