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Deficit Reduction As Ideology

One of the oddities of Washington establishment thought is that the Pete Peterson ideology -- the belief that deficits are the most serious problem in America -- is so pervasive that those who share it don't realize it's an ideological belief at all. As a result, efforts to advance the cause of deficit reduction are frequently portrayed not as an ideological decision but as a simple good. Look at this passage from the Washington Post:

Members of President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission expressed a surprising willingness Wednesday to compromise on issues that have long divided Republicans and Democrats, including raising taxes and cutting Social Security.
Confronted with a deficit-reduction plan loaded with political dynamite, members from both parties set aside ideological orthodoxy at least briefly, sparking hope that their work could ignite a serious effort to reduce government debt and spare the nation from a European-style fiscal crisis.

This is the lead of a news story! It's a shockingly positive spin on a commission whose plan is very likely to fail. What's more, it accepts purely at face value the commission's premises about the merits and importance of deficit reduction.

To be sure, I am relatively sympathetic to those goals. I think the long-term deficit is a problem, and, if possible, it would be worthwhile for Democrats to compromise with Republicans to produce a deficit reduction agreement even if it did a lot of things Democrats wouldn't like. But those are opinions. People like Pete Peterson have had a shocking amount of success in turning their opinions into the unquestioned ideology of the political establishment.