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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Strategic vision in short supply at the White House and Politico.com

Ponder, if you will, this strategically clueless bit of punditry from Carrie Budoff Brown and Ben Smith at Politico.com, as part of an essay entitled "President Obama's deficit plan puts him back in sync with progressives:"

[Obama's new] mocking tone toward Republicans, along with the sharp left turn in his policy prescriptions, aimed to send an unmistakable message to voters who have increasingly questioned the strength of Obama’s backbone: Congress won’t push him around any longer. If Republicans want a deal, then they’re going to have to compromise, too.

That last sentence might have been better written, "If Republicans want to deal, then they're going to have to compromise, too." And therein lies the mistaken premise. The only leverage that Obama and the Democrats had during July's struggle arose from GOP legislators' legitimate concerns that they'd be blamed for the interruption of government services that might have attended a failure to raise the national debt ceiling.

Now Obama and the Democrats face an even more united opposition that includes an absolute majority of the House and, on these issues, probably a working majority of the Senate. They believe that everything which Obama has just proposed — including the many recycled proposals which are so lame that Obama couldn't pass them even when the Dems controlled both chambers of Congress — would make things worse. So no, they don't want a "deal" on these measures, and neither do they want to deal on them: There's neither carrot nor stick in Obama's hand, just crap that he's throwing out there again for the sole purpose (a wholly and transparently political one) of making his base think he's talking and being tough.

That's a very tactical response to Obama's present problems. A strategic view would caution him against such short-term tactics, however: Certainly by November 2012, even Obama's base will have recognized that once again, Obama has failed to deliver on any of the wild promises that he made to make them (briefly) happy again back in September 2011.

If there's anyone at either Politico or the White House who's thinking strategically at all, they would realize that the smartest thing Obama could do now — both for the health of the national economy and for his own political prospects — would be to shut up and do nothing for a few months. That golf game will get rusty if it's not continuously polished, you know. America needs a president who can play a good round of golf more than it needs a president who can dish up the kind of nonsense we're hearing from Obama.

There's indeed a chance that if Obama will shut up, some legislation might pass both chambers of Congress which would reduce undue government burdens on the economy and, as part of an overall revenue-neutral flattening and broadening of the tax base, close tax loopholes. See my immediately preceding post regarding House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's broad reform and rescue plan, the Path to Prosperity. Parts of that plan, or analogs thereof, could probably make their way separately through both the House and Senate, via the proposals of the "supercommittee" or otherwise. By getting government out of the way, that legislation would actually stimulate the economy (or, much more accurately, permit it to begin healing itself). And if Obama would just shut up, then when and if such legislation passes, he could (and doubtless would) claim a share in its prospective success. And there might, for a change, actually be some success to take credit for!

But it doesn't take much strategic vision — or, really, anything other than my ordinary spectacle-assisted vision — to recognize that my speculation has an impossible premise, too: The earth will reverse its own rotation before Obama manages to shut himself up, ever, about anything.

Posted by Beldar at 11:37 AM in 2012 Election, Budget/economics, Congress, Obama, Politics (2011), Ryan | Permalink


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(1) Boyd made the following comment | Sep 20, 2011 11:53:25 AM | Permalink

But more importantly, what are your views on Big 12 realignment and where the Longhorns will eventually end up?


(2) Rovin made the following comment | Sep 23, 2011 5:36:53 AM | Permalink


I wonder if I could get your opinion on a clause in Obama's Job's Bill where the states will have to give up their 11th amendment rights to receive federal funds in the bill.

Clause in Obama Jobs Plan Requires States to Forfeit 11th Amendment Rights


There's an argument that SCOTUS has allowed similar waivers in the past, setting precedent.

(longtime fan of your postings and Patrick Freys'---if you'd rather reply in email, that would be fine.)

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 23, 2011 7:45:01 PM | Permalink

Rovin, I don't know enough about the particulars to venture an opinion on this. The omnibus jobs legislation that Obama is proposing won't pass either the House or Senate, so I'm not inclined to dig very hard to check on this item. In general I oppose the federal government giving money to state governments; the camel got its nose in the tent with federal funds for the interstate highway system, and now it's like every state in the country has an uncomfortable relationship with a loan shark or a bookie.

(4) stan made the following comment | Sep 26, 2011 11:34:03 AM | Permalink


You might want to have some fun with all the latest "anti-science" garbage being thrown at Perry and others in the GOP by Obama and the Democrats. The plot seems to be to paint those who fail to drink the global warming koolaid as incapable of being logical and rational -- that their ideology/faith trumps common reason.

Yet, this is coming from the some people who willing suspended disbelief over basic kindergarten arithmetic screwups. When the White House was desperate to total up large numbers of jobs "saved or created", they told us of businesses and govt offices where they had saved more jobs than the total that existed (e.g. over 900 of the approx 500 jobs at one employer). Simple counting is apparently too much to expect.

They double counted "savings" in Obamacare.

In fact, we have seen the same kind of inability or unwillingess when it comes to reading a simple chart regarding tax rates for millionaires and secretaries. Perhaps it's an inability to read? Or they flunked the Sesame Street exercise of "which of these numbers is larger than the other?"

People who can't add, count, or read a simple chart might want to hold off on claims that others are "anti-science".

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