Van Jones, former White House green czar, face of progressives (Getty Images)

Eugene Robinson, in his Washington Post column, argues that in order to get on the public's radar, progressives need a "Big Idea," such as job creation and building a robust economy. He argues that the GOP is on a winning streak because it has a Big Idea, albeit a bad one, which is that taxes are too high and government spending is wasteful. He uses the debt-ceiling debate to make his case.

Those who would chronicle events in Washington can find no richer source of analogy and metaphor than the Three Stooges. These days, I’m thinking of the times when an exasperated Moe, having suffered the indignity of an accidental spritzing or clobbering, turns to Larry or Curly and demands, "What's the big idea?"

The premise of the debt-ceiling fight is too far-fetched for a Stooges film, since no audience could imagine leaders of a great nation stumbling into such a mess. Moe's trademark line is still relevant, however, even if it’s not followed by the two-fingered poke in the eyes that our elected officials richly deserve.

It is clear that unless President Obama ends up taking unilateral action to break a hopeless deadlock, Republicans will win. The House, the Senate and the White House are all working within GOP-defined parameters: New tax revenue is off the table, painful budget cuts are a given, everyone seems to accept the principle that a debt-ceiling increase — which allows the Treasury to pay bills Congress has already incurred — must be tied to reductions in future spending.

The biggest sticking point is whether the GOP can force Democrats to climb back into the ring for a rematch next year. And why wouldn't Republicans want another fight? They won the last budget battle, which was over a possible government shutdown, and they must feel confident of winning the next one, too. Momentum is on their side, even though they control just one wing of the Capitol — and even though they advocate measures that most Americans reject.


Read Eugene Robinson's complete column at the Washington Post.