The next battle

As the battle of the “GOP default crisis of 2011” comes to an end, both sides will now assess the damage, care for their wounded and gear up for the Super Committee — also known as the next front in the war over the appropriate role of government. 

Washington sustained a significant loss of credibility in this latest round as financial markets and leaders around the world witnessed dysfunction junction — a reckless group held its country hostage to its demands while trying to get us to drink poisoned Kool-Aid. Perhaps that explains why the results of a recent Pew poll found that China is seen as overtaking the U.S. as a superpower. “In 15 of 22 nations, the balance of opinion is that China either will replace or already has replaced the United States as the world’s leading superpower.” House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) inability to shut down the insurrection from within his own ranks showed that under his/GOP leadership, extortion can work, even when a clear majority of Americans and economists disagree with you. 

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Regardless of how Democrats feel about the deal, as the Super Committee is formed, the party must focus and reframe the debate to fight the next round on our turf. President Obama has made it clear that his call for shared sacrifice and balance are still very much on the table (aka revenue raisers, or taxes), but Democrats will have to stand firm to make that happen. 

As some have noted, the $1.2 trillion trigger mechanism requiring a 50 percent cut in both defense and domestic spending ensures a further split within a fractured GOP. As the anti-tax group led by the Republicans’ master, Grover Norquist, fights it out with those that oppose any cuts to defense spending, Democrats should stand back and let them divide themselves, further demonstrating how out of control things have become in an extremist party that has shown yet again it cannot lead America effectively. Thanks to the actions of governors like John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, the GOP extremism argument is not a hard sell as voters continue to say, “This is not what I voted for.”

To have real legitimacy with the American people — who are now asking themselves what all of this drama actually means for them — the new gang of 12 must be representative of a diverse cross-section of our country. That means including members who can effectively shift what has been a 30,000-foot-level, academic conversation about billions and trillions to the level of individual people, families and communities — including African-American and Latino — who deal in single, double and triple digits. That also means “framing the pain” by effectively highlighting the real pain and consequence of the GOP’s extremism that would have taken away money for middle-class kids to go to college while cutting their parents’ future Social Security benefits and Medicare. 

Many are suggesting that the GOP demands in the deal will lead to an economic Armageddon, returning America to the policies of trickle-down economics at a time when the spigot has been closed off for quite some time. Democrats must hold the Tea Partiers accountable for what they have done to bring it.

If indeed America’s ability to invest in infrastructure, research and education are hampered, it’s on their heads. If those wacky “job-creators” we’ve heard so much about don’t get up off the cash they have been hoarding and start hiring, make the GOP and its Tea Party ’splain it to the American people.

Karen Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and Democratic consultant.