Then, as it always does, the discussion will turn to spending cuts. That's hardly a novel development in our political dialogue. In fact, it seems to be all anyone has been talking about for years.
The pro-corporate and pro-billionaire lobbying group Fix the Debt said in a press release today that deficit spending "is letting a fire burn that could get out of control at any moment." As usual they have it precisely backward. Recent data shows that the deficit is falling rapidly, while jobs and wages remain stagnant. Recession is the fire that's burning, eating up jobs, prosperity, opportunity, and most of the middle class. Government spending is still needed to put the fire out.
Worrying about deficits in this kind of economy is like worrying about water conservation when your house is on fire.
And yet, that is almost certainly where the talks mandated by this deal will take us -- unless people demand a more constructive agenda. And while the talks continue the destructive spending cuts known as "sequestration" will be extended, costing Americans in both jobs and dollars.
Republican Hands Off My Medicare!
Then the negotiators are almost certainly going to turn to the most prized target of all, the Holy Grail which "bipartisan" corporate politicians have been seeking to cut for years: Medicare and Social Security. That would be devastating to millions of disabled and elderly Americans, now and in the future.
These cuts would be especially devastating to today's young Americans, whom corporate lobbyists (and the ever-execrable Tom Friedman) would hoodwink us into believing would somehow be cheated if we safeguard the social safety net so that it will be there when they need it.
As Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, so succinctly put it: get your GOP hands off my Medicare! And Social Security, too.
The Usual Suspects
It's important to remember that this insurrection against our constitutional form of government was not conducted by "renegades" within the Republican Party, as so many pundits and party officials would have us believe. If that were the case, John Boehner could have put a clean resolution to a vote and ended the shutdown on Day One. The party's Senate "moderates" could have promptly ended Sen. Cruz's mock filibuster, sparing both the nation and the Senator a considerable degree of embarrassment.
This wasn't the work of the Tea Party. This was the work of the Republican Party.
Their plan all along has been to parlay their stunning 2012 electoral loss into a series of legislative wins through the use of threats, drastic actions -- and, yes, "hostage taking." Their intention from the very beginning was to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The question now is: can Democrats avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?
Elements of Victory
Democrats win when they fight for Medicare, Social Security, and the middle class. That leads to economic victories. But Dems will face powerful inducements in coming months to compromise with the austerity economics crowd by agreeing to a menu of further spending cuts, destructive entitlement "reform," and tax code tinkering that starves the government of needed revenue while protecting corporations and the wealthy.