Thursday, June 30, 2011

Punching Back

Unfortunately, I think David Frum makes some valid points here about the President's presser yesterday (h/t Sullivan):

1) The stuff about corporate jets is just … crapola really. It’s the Democratic equivalent of Republicans pretending that the deficit can be closed by cutting PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. If Obama, the supposed grownup in the room, wants to make the case for revenue measures, let him make the case for relevant revenue measures.

2) 30 or so days before a forced default on the financial obligations of the United States seems a poor choice of a time for negotiations over budget measures. Why is Obama allowing himself to be engaged in this way?

3) Why for that matter is Obama surrendering to the demand to change the subject from jobs to deficits? Surely Obama believes that rapid budget-cutting will be deflationary? And therefore irresponsible in the context of 10% unemployment, near-zero inflation, and 1% interest rates on federal debt? Why has he allowed himself to be pushed into measures he regards as irresponsible?

4) Beyond that why isn’t he yelling his head off about the Republican default threat? Why isn’t he being specific about what it could mean? And why isn’t he doing what Lyndon Johnson would do – making it clear that if H-Hour does arrive, he’ll use disbursement power just as politically as Republicans are using the power of the debt ceiling: eg, paying Medicaid bills from Blue states first, Red states later? Paying farmers and other Republican constituencies with IOUs, while hoarding cash for Democratic voters?

I do appreciate that the President made specific references to the governmental functions, like ensuring food safety, that could be at stake, that are in fact already at stake, in a spending-cuts-only position on raising the debt limit.

And it seems rather obvious that Democrats have public opinion on their side relating to tax increases, even those beyond the marginal ones Obama offered up yesterday.

But I'm having a hard time seeing how the scope of the ultimate agreement won't embrace nearly all the GOP demands, given the circumstances and Obama's unwillingness to make the consequences of default and drastic spending cuts plain to the public.

At the same time, that his speech elicited a wonderful "He's a dick" from GOP shill Mark Halperin, followed quickly by an apology and suspension from MSNBC qualifies as a small reward.

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