Reactions elsewhere

Center for Economic Policy Research (Yay that Obama plans to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Not happy he isn’t asking a proportional sacrifice from defense budget. And by the way, what about jobs?)

“President Obama’s statement was about as encouraging as could have been hoped for in the context of an agenda committed to deficit reduction. He rightly stressed that the wealthy, who have been the big winners in the economy over the last three decades, can afford to pay more in taxes. He also correctly pointed out that Social Security is an essential program for the nation’s retirees and workers, and that it does not contribute to the deficit. He also pointed out that the way to fix Medicare and Medicaid is to fix the private health care system, not to privatize Medicare as the Republicans in Congress have proposed.

“On the negative side, it is unfortunate that President Obama accepted a formula that cuts three times as much from projected spending (including interest) as he proposes to increase taxes. It is also striking that he proposes to cut twice as much from domestic discretionary spending (the portion of the budget that includes most investment spending) as he does from defense spending, especially since defense spending is projected to be about 20 percent larger than domestic discretionary spending over the 10-year budget horizon.

“More importantly, a deficit reduction agenda is a serious problem in the context of an economy that badly needs additional demand. While the economy is much healthier today than it was two years ago, the pace of job growth is not acceptable.

[ . . . ]

“Jobs should be the top priority for policymakers right now. The people who are out of work are not the ones who gave us this recession. It is the fault of the people who design economic policy.”

David Dayen at Firedoglake echoes the Center for Economic Policy Research. (The speech was fine, but the focus is wrong)

I wrote at the end of the liveblog on Obama’s speech today that, but for the fact that the speech should never have been given, I didn’t have much wrong with it. Obama got suckered into making a big show of his deficit reduction bona fides at a time when the biggest problem in the country concern millions of idle bodies who could be working and contributing.

[ . . . ]

And the rhetoric in the speech, with its defense of government action, was mostly fine too. But the direction of the debate is all wrong. We’re wasting human potential with a focus on deficits. It’s the wrong time and place. The speech is fine a) if you believe the lines in the sand will not be crossed and b) if you ignore the fact that millions of people are out of work.

UPDATE: Then there’s the point about this becoming the new baseline, the leftward pole in the debate, a point Paul Krugman makes here. That’s a dangerous step, and even worse is the silly “failsafe” which will mandate spending cuts and tax hikes if these deficit targets aren’t met by 2014. That’s essentially a spending cap, and it’s a terrible idea.

Yep, that “failsafe” part freaked me out too.

Greg Sargeant, Washington Post

We cannot know right now whether the steadfastness of Obama’s rhetoric in defending core liberal and Democratic ideals will be matched by equal resoluteness in practice when the battles heat up and the temptation to make deals and jettison core priorities intensifies. But Obama did tell us in clear and unequivocal moral terms what he thinks it means to be a Democrat, and those who have been waiting for him to do so should be quite satisfied by what they heard.

I was quite struck by the tone and content of this part of his speech. I thought, If this Obama stays and fights, I will have his back. My regular readers know what an amazing thought that is coming from me.

When I was married to husband #1, he used to tell me that I shouldn’t judge him on past behavior. But that’s all I had to go on. He could promise until the cows came home that he was turning over a new leaf, but until I saw some consistent behavior changes, I had no other point of reference. The same applies to Obama.

Words are easy. And they do come easy to Barack Obama. What he has trouble with is (A) conflict and (B) follow-through.   He’s going to have to stand up to the Republicans. He appears to have drawn a line in the sand.  I would prefer one chiseled in granite. 

And again, the devil is in the details and the final deal.  We’ll know soon enough if in the next few days and weeks Obama starts walking it back. 

As the Rude Pundit put it:

The Rude Pundit’s Five-Word Response to President Obama’s Magical Speech o’ Deficit-Reducing Wonderment and Marvels:

Why should we believe you?

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2 thoughts on “Reactions elsewhere

  1. Obama never will follow through. He should have called the GOP’s bluff and allowed the government to shut down. It would have damaged the Republicans to no end. Now we have the debt ceiling to worry about, and the GOP will stop at nothing to get their way.

    Obama will cave.

    I don’t care what he says—talk is cheap, President Lawn Chair.

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