On Friday’s “NewsHour” on PBS, during his weekly political analysis segment with syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks offered a bleak take on the fiscal cliff deal that made its way through Congress earlier in the week.
Brooks argued the deal does little to cut federal spending and sets the stage for more budget fights in the future.
“I think we are immeasurably worse off. I think it was a complete failure,” Brooks said. “Listen, what did we want out of this? The president wanted a balanced deal with some tax increases and some spending cuts. We didn’t get a balanced deal. There were no real spending cuts.”
“Second, we could have done something to address our long-term debt,” Brooks added. “That was the whole purpose behind this whole thing. We did nothing to address our long-term debt, and almost nothing to reduce deficits over the next 10 years. We could have had a stimulus package to have some short-term economic growth, which was talked about. We did nothing to do that. We did nothing to help reform entitlements.”
Brooks said that by postponing further budget discussions, the fiscal cliff deal makes it harder for Congress to discuss other pressing domestic issues.
“We could have put these endless budget fights behind us, so we could get on to talk about immigration,” he continued. “We didn’t do that either.”
Later in the segment, Brooks assigned blame to both politicians and the American people for the fiscal mess. (RELATED OPINION — Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel: How Congress, Wall Street and the media traded America’s future for another short-term fix)
“We blame politics — always [saying] Washington is all dysfunctional,” Brooks said. “They’re responding reasonably efficiently to what the American people want, which is to take the future’s money and spend it on ourselves. … So I do think it starts with the American people. Nonetheless, I do blame everyone else, too, including us, I guess. But I would blame the Republicans for saying they want to control spending, talking of beating their chests about it, but they don’t have a strategy, because they don’t actually have the guts to propose spending cuts.”
“And so they talk about the debt, the debt, the debt for years and years,” Brooks continued. “They finally have a chance to propose some actual reforms. They can’t do it, because they think it would be unpopular. … And, for Democrats, I would say, you want to pretend you want to protect valuable programs: Head Start, early childhood. Well, Medicare is basically eating away at all that. And if you don’t tackle Medicare, you are going to have less for all the stuff you want to do. So who do you care more about: the rich elderly or the poor young? You have got to make that call.”