An Acid Test For Obama And The Post Partisan Unity Schtick

As the battle rages on between Obama partisans (these are persons who have, and perhaps it will be justified, an almost blind faith in Obama) and other progressives who are, to put it mildly, skeptical about the post-partisan unity schtick (I count myself among this group, a group cynical about all pols and who count Obama as a pol), I think there is little doubt that President Obama and his postpartisan unity schtick are about to face a major acid test -- the President's performance in shaping an economic stimulus plan.

I think this test should reveal a few things. First, is Obama as progressive as we have been told on matters economic. Second, what does he really believe "will work" to stimulate the economy adequately. Third, how effective was the post partisan unity schtick in helping the President achieve his political and policy goals.

More . . .

This debate ran through the entire primary season, and for some of us, was an important issue to consider about Obama since we first became aware of his extreme political talent. As I have noted many times, my first post at TalkLeft discussed what I perceive to be Obama's misguided political style. My argument was not that it was misguided for Obama's personal political fortunes, but rather it was misguided for enacting progressive policies and ideas.

Because of the economic meltdown last year, I believed that the issue of Obama's political style had become moot for the moment, as the crisis was so severe that Obama had garnered a mandate for progressive policies despite his lackluster push for such policies.

That observation only holds so long as President Obama actually wants to enact progressive policies. When it came to torture, civil liberties and Gitmo, President Obama demonstrated a firm commitment to progressive ideals (ideals held by a majority of the nation btw.) His performance in that area was stellar and the strength of his mandate was such that even those who had argued for a continuation of the Bush/Cheney policies declared Obama's actions a victory.

On other issues, like lobbyists and trade policy, I never expected that Obama's actions would match his rhetoric and I was content, even pleased, about it.

However, regarding the economic stimulus plan, President Obama has been quite timid, from his opening proposal to his post partisan unity schtick with Republicans the past few days. It is my view that the Obama plan, even when he adopted some Democratic ideas to bolster his plan, is simply inadequate for the crisis at hand. A major question is this - does Obama think his plan is adequate? If he thinks it is adequate, then the question is, to use the words of d-day, is this true:

Obama has maintained this sugar plum fairy vision of bipartisanship, yet his bill manifestly does NOT value "what works" over ideology. Quite the opposite. It makes room for ideology, conservative ideology, and pre-empts provisions that would work much better in bringing back the economy.

(Emphasis supplied.) d-day presupposes that Obama does not believe that the changes he is making will make his economic stimulus plan better. Is that true? I agree with d-day's assessment of these changes, but does Obama? I think that is an open question.

Let's assume for a moment that Obama is sacrificing efficacy for "bipartisanship," is this a defensible view looking strictly from the political perspective? To wit, will Obama improve his own electoral chances in 2012 by making these sacrifices to policy efficacy? I think not. President Obama will own the economic performance, no matter who does or does not vote for his plan. No one will remember in 2012 that he took a meeting with the House leadership in January 2009. What people will remember is whether the economy is better.

But what about potential GOP cooperation with President Obama on later issues? Does the post partisan unity schtick help Obama in that respect? To me the answer to that question is irrelevant politically. Barack Obama's presidency will rise or fall politically on the performance of the economy.

But what about enacting other important policies like health care, EFCA and the like? Won't this help Obama? In my view no. Republicans will never support progressive policies in those areas.

Perhaps some might argue, the Republicans are prepared to work with an "independent" President while continuing to demonize Congressional Dems, willing to hold their fire against Obama while mounting frontal political assaults against Congressional Dems? There is evidence to support this view. The question is will this be effective politically for Obama. It very well might be. But I doubt it. Consider the case of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, who moved away from Congressional Dems, from necessity of course, after the disastrous 1994 congressional elections. Clinton was able to reverse his political fortunes and win reelection handily in 1996.

But remember how and why Clinton won reelection in 1996 - the economic performance of the nation was strong by 1996 - due in no small measure to Clinton's 1993 economic plan - which passed on strict party lines. To wit, Clinton, when his political capital was highest, went for the best plan he could get through Congress. Obama seems to have summarily rejected that approach (assuming he does not think that the GOP objections he meets will strengthen and improve his economic plan.)

There is another factor to consider - once Obama opens up his proposals to negotiation and demonstrates a penchant for ceding to opposing views, it will not be just Republicans who make demands. RonK pointed out this story from the Hill:

House Democrats won a key procedural vote Tuesday on the stimulus after a last-minute promise from the Obama administration to return to “pay-as-you-go” budget rules after the stimulus is approved. In a 224-199 vote, the House approved a resolution allowing the stimulus bill to come to the floor for debate. Twenty-seven Democrats – 24 of them members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition – bucked their leadership and voted against the measure.

But according to Democratic leadership sources, the number was almost much higher – and could have been high enough to hand the Republicans a monumental victory – had it not been for a letter from President Obama’s budget director Peter Orszag. The letter addressed to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David promised to return to “pay-as-you-go budgeting,” and stressed that the stimulus was an “extraordinary response to an extraordinary process” and thus subject to different rules. It should not be seen as an opportunity to abandon the fiscal discipline that we owe each and every taxpayer in spending their money – and that is critical to keeping the United States strong in a global, interdependent economy,” the letter stated.

If "pay as you go" becomes a rule for Obama in the out years, as the Blue Dogs demand, Obama will repeat the mistakes of FDR in 1937 (ending fiscal stimulus before the economy is truly recovered) and his economic recovery plan will be flattened by a premature restriction on fiscal stimulus. But once Obama shows weakness in budget negotiations, it won't just be Republicans making demands.

President Obama is at the height of his political power. He will never have more political capital than he has now. Yet, he has shown disturbing signs of being afraid to use that power. Perhaps it is just kabuki theatre. and I have no doubt the Media is prepared to throw plaudits Obama's way, no matter what the Republicans do, for the post partisan unity schtick.

The question is will Obama confine this schitck to political theatre, or will he really make significant concessions to the Republicans. It is the acid test for those of us who have been discussing Obama's "theory of change" for the past 4 years. We will know by President's Day.

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    He needs to take to the airwaves daily (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:33:08 AM EST
    This should be a daily TV event like a Super Bowl every day.  And he needs to call out Republicans and challenge them to intense and almost nightly debates about this issue, that everyone can see and hear and judge for themselves.  Force the Republicans to air their "ideas", of which they have none, in the court of public opinion.  Force them to show the American people how empty their ideology and "plans" are.  Pound it and pound it and pound it like a hammer.

    Will he?  I doubt it, but one can still hope he grows that set of inaugural balls quickly.    

    A nightly Obama v Boehner smackdown (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:32:54 AM EST
    I love it.

    Last night Rachel Maddow played tapes of McCain's pathetic economic statements during the election. Obama needs to do more to remind people why we did not vote for these guys.


    Excellent Post, BTD (5.00 / 6) (#3)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:37:27 AM EST
    Yes, the stimulus is quite timid.  It also seems he got rolled (by both sides of the aisle) on this plan.  This is more a Dem Congress plan than it is an Obama plan.

    But I await his actions on banking and the mortgage crisis to fully assess his progressive creds on the economy.

    I am a bit surprised that there hasn't been more Mad Ave flourishes to the roll out of his economic plan.

    But if they're taking a bit more time to get it right, I'm willing to wait.

    Stimulus as actually Congressional Dems' bill? (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by jawbone on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:39:19 AM EST
    Does Obama want the public to think that?

    Perhaps he's laying a bit low (except for the bipartisan showboating) to create the image in the public's mind that this bill really is coming from Congressional Dems, and thus, somehow and inexplicably for a president of the same party (nominally, at least), Obama himself can claim the results are not his doing???

    Your post, with the first paragraph ending with "This is more a Dem Congress plan than it is an Obama plan," followed by your wondering "that there hasn't been more Mad Ave flourishes to the roll out" made me realize what's been kind of bothering me for days now: Our new president seems oddly removed from what's going on in his name about this perhaps most serious piece of legislation he will offer.  If he can persuade the public this bill isn't really his, maybe he can try to say, well, I didn't write it or some such crap, but, if not, why not? It is his administration, his call for action. What's up with this? Very strange lack of agency on his part, like he's an observer of his own presidency....

    But, within one week of inauguration, to be referred to regularly as "getting rolled," either by the opposition or factions of one's own party, is not, as Martha Stewart is wont to say, A Good Thing.

    (Sen. Sam Nunn's kneecapping of Bill Clinton over the gays in the military executive order was also damaging to Clinton; however, this issue is so crucial to Obama's success he cannot blow it. Plus, an Obama slow or failed recovery means the Dems will pay the price in lost seats. A major Repub objective, of course. Damn, Axelrod and Obama were so good at gaming the primary system, why can't they get the politics of governing?)

    Many presidents grow while in office--might be time for some growth hormone for Obama.


    I Supported Hillary Largely (5.00 / 6) (#4)
    by bob h on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:38:19 AM EST
    because I found the Obama bipartisan schtick naive.

    But like the puppy who chases cars, they will learn the hard way.

    You cannot have any compromise with people who are willing to drag everything down, who are basically nihilists.  The good thing is that we do not need the Republicans at the end of the day.

    That we could only get 224 votes (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:39:01 AM EST
    in the House for deficit spending in an economic situation like this is really quite concerning.

    Really? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:43:03 AM EST
    I think until the through line argument has been made via the bully pulpit, 224 is about where you're stuck.

    Maybe (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:47:00 AM EST
    I see three possibilities 1) that after two wave elections, we're back to having lots and lots of "Democrats" again; 2) that many Democrats don't think that their districts will support this package or; 3) that many Democrats who will vote for the package at the end of the day don't want to be on record as specifically waiving the paygo rule.

    With this economy ... (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:18:42 AM EST
    you HAVE TO waive the paygo rule.

    No kidding (none / 0) (#76)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:20:00 AM EST
    The question is (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:47:25 AM EST
    I think, will they vote No if their No will defeat the bill.

    224 is sufficient for the House (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:49:18 AM EST
    but I don't like what it portends for the Senate. Is Jon Tester going to vote for this package? Jim Webb? Ben Nelson?

    Undoubtedly yes imo (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:51:40 AM EST
    Ok, so a further question is: (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:53:52 AM EST
    whose vote is contingent on the tax cuts? No one who's currently in favor of the package, I would guess.

    If they aren't going to get any Republican votes, the House should strip them this afternoon by amendment.


    If the plan can pass without the tax (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:08:18 AM EST
    cuts, they should be stripped, IMO. David Sirota spoke to that very well last night on Rachel Maddow's radio show - maybe the TV show too. Any dollar spent on a tax cut to get Republican support is wasted money that should go to the spending part of the plan.  

    Which tax cuts? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:04:05 AM EST
    The some $250m that are supposedly (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:06:05 AM EST
    in the package.

    The rule just passed with 240 votes, I think. No Republicans.


    A lot of the 300 billion (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:13:12 AM EST
    is an expansion of the Clinton EITC.

    I am in favor of that tax cut myself.

    I oppose the business tax cuts in favor of more fiscal stimulus. Business investment tax cuts may make some sense but not now. They are ineffective short term economic stimulus initiatives.

    But the expansion of the EITC will be money spent.

    I favor it all the time but ESPECIALLY now.


    EITC is fine (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:14:28 AM EST
    but I think the BITC serve no purpose right now. They aren't as effective as spending.

    the big beef I have is (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:16:47 AM EST
    that the BITC crowded out more fiscal stimulus.

    It was a misguided use of the moment by Obama.


    Indeed (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:21:16 AM EST
    A month ago people like Krugman were saying that a Trillion in spending was the baseline, and anything else wouldn't be enough.

    We aren't even halfway there.


    that is what should worry Obama (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:24:36 AM EST
    that this plan will fail and then he will become Jimmy Carter.

    I am surprised that, for his own political sake, he was not bolder.

    He really has two choices - FDR or Jimmy Carter.

    Clintonism really is not an option for him.


    That's exactly what he does not seem to get (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:28:01 AM EST
    Compromising it in ways that make it less likely to work will be a catastrophe for him personally as well as for the country. If it does not work, no one is going to blame the Republicans that he bought off with tax cuts.

    Before Clinton was Clinton (5.00 / 5) (#49)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:28:08 AM EST
    he passed a very partisan economic package that set him up for 8 years of success.

    True enough (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:35:39 AM EST
    To expand on the point (none / 0) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:17:38 AM EST
    IF Obama wanted BITCs, he could have done it anytime after, without spending a dime of capital.

    This was not the bill for BITCs.


    That's my beef too (none / 0) (#46)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:25:14 AM EST
    I am fine with both the BITC and EITC expansion as part of a tax bill further down the road. I just don't think either belong in the stimulus package. But yea, I'd rather have the EITC there than the BITC if they pick one or the other.

    Do you mean 250 billion, not million? (none / 0) (#28)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:10:23 AM EST
    I'm not up to date with what's going on...maybe the tax cuts shrunk..

    Yes. Oops. (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:13:21 AM EST
    Great post (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:52:02 AM EST
    by Charles Lemos on how Obama ought to be using the bully pulpit to rally support for this bill.

    Personally, I think the flaw both substantively and politically is that the bill seems to be missing a Big Idea.  But the more information people get about the contents of the bill (and I don't mean the cherry-picked stuff the Republicans are getting outraged over), the closer we'll get to the appearance of at least SOME motivating idea.

    It is missing HOLC (5.00 / 6) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:03:45 AM EST
    HOLC is essential for recovery (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:28:26 AM EST
    We're going to spend about 2 trillion with all these bailouts and stimulants and we still haven't begun to address the root of the problem. This started with the mortgage meltdown. It has to be addressed. Instead, Obama agreed to strip the package of any help by not allowing judges to work with people on their primary residence mortgages.  HOLC is the answer.

    For the majority of American's, their home equity is their security. My retirement and future standard of living is based on this concept.


    I've never wavered from that view (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:35:03 AM EST
    I'm afraid without HOLC (5.00 / 3) (#61)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:48:51 AM EST
    and people losing homes in mass numbers, we are going to face some serious real estate deflation.  We were going to face deflation anyhow but my grandfather always taught me that a solid investment tends to be real estate, it's tangible and they aren't making anymore of it as far as land goes.  Shelter is a necessity, it is a good place to create market confidence and stability and yet.....without HOLC we will help create some horrid deflation and destabilize families that will destabilize a whole system.  If we face horrid home value deflation we will all lose our incentive to pay the mortgages we have whether we can afford to or not as well.

    Too late? (none / 0) (#85)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:37:11 AM EST
    You believe it and I believe it but I don't hear anyone in Washington that believes it yet. (Hilary is gone from the Senate)

    My fear is that by the time they realize the need, the damage will be done and we'll have passed the point of no return.


    As far as I know (none / 0) (#57)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:40:16 AM EST
    the cramdown legislation is still moving forward.  The Journal had an article on it yesterday.

    Aren't we were well over $2Trillion under BushCo? (none / 0) (#93)
    by jawbone on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:51:31 AM EST
    Original TARP, oodles of monies somehow just put out there. Seems I was reading before the New Year of how much the Big Sh*t Pile is actually costing us. Treasury monies, Fed monies, FDIC monies, etc.

    well it does seem a little stupid (5.00 / 5) (#17)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:53:22 AM EST
    imo, that everything is now aimed at whether or not Obama is, in the words of the NYT, "making good on his word to bridge the partisan divide."

    That isn't going to allow the stimulus to be bold.  Focusing on what is actually in the stimulus would be more productive.  I want jobs, not the satisfaction of Obama creating a bipartisan miracle.  But now the media narrative is that the stimulus has to be a miracle.  Otherwise it will be terribly disappointing for all of us.

    Great post. (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Faust on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:06:14 AM EST
    Best post I've read on this yet on balance.

    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:14:13 AM EST
    For those of us who have been analyzing and arguing about the Post Partisan Unity Schtick, it is interesting to see our views tested.

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:10:28 AM EST
    Amen.  I've always thought there were two major compensations for an Obama nomination and win-- first the impact it has on black children especially (and there's already evidence that test scores go up immediately), and the fascination of watching this post-partisan crap come up against hard reality and seeing how, or if, Obama would respond to that reality.

    Yes at long last (none / 0) (#79)
    by Faust on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:24:57 AM EST
    we come to the part where the "rubber meets the road." Let's "hope" this car goes where we would like it to.

    Sorry, the GOP is instituting (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:36:06 AM EST
    speed limits and CAFE standards on the PPUS car.

    Commitments to pay-as-you-go... (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by NealB on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:41:45 AM EST
    ...on the federal level are always empty. If they were truly committed to it, then a balanced budget amendment would have passed during Reagan or one of the Bushes; it never did. So Orszag's letter is definitely part of Obama's PPUS.

    If Obama were really committed to post-partisan unity, he'd be talking all-out class war because right now there's nothing that would be more effective in uniting 90% of the country than pitting the 90% of us who've been shafted economically in this country since Reagan against the 10% who stole all the wealth.


    MCM views fiscal contrain as optional for Repubs (none / 0) (#91)
    by jawbone on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:46:37 AM EST
    But mandatory for Democrats. And the MCM* is still carrying water for the Repubs, amazingly so. Has a regular old fashioned bucket brigade going.

    If Obama promises Pay As You Go (PayGo), the MCMers will hold him to it, fer sure.

    *MCM--Mainstream Corporate Media


    I never got the (5.00 / 3) (#72)
    by Jjc2008 on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:14:52 AM EST
    difference the CDS group was trying to push early on, even before everyone but Obama and Clinton were the only two in the primary.  

    On one hand, Hillary was trashed for reaching out to, talking to, acknowledging the existence of any right winger because "all the Clintons do is triangulate."  
     But if one really understand the concept, it really is no different than trying to get the right footing for compromise.  Isn't this what Obama is doing?  Trying to get compromise?

    Why is it good now but bad when any Clinton did it?  Admittedly, Bill and Hillary had to learn compromise the hard way, after the Newt wing of hate used personal trashing to make sure nothing either Clinton worked for was seen as positive.

    SOME of the left, the ones with CDS have been letting the right narrate history for years.

    No matter what Obama's plan is (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:35:39 AM EST
    the real question is how can progressives use this opportunity.  Maybe Obama's trotting out the unity pony to show he did what he could to get the Repubs to cooperate in fixing the economy, or maybe he's offering to buy them off and needed a private meeting to see what they want.  We don't know for sure, but I'm guessing they're holding out for money for their pet projects and a continuation of the status quo for war profiteers, telecoms, drug companies and banks.  

    Right most people agree that BushCo caused a lot of our problems, but within a month or so, Obama's going to own the bad economy and foreign policy failures.  As soon as the second half of the fake bailout bill is released, it'll be Obama and the Democrats' fault for allowing bank CEOs to rake in millions at the expense of struggling Americans.  The banks are taking our hard earned tax money and using it to foreclose on those very people who are footing the bill to keep rich CEOs and investors in power.  Eventually middle class America will realize the generosity of the bailout bill was not only abused, but actually worsened the economy by improving the banks' abilities to foreclose without benefiting homeowners in need.  When that change in public opinion occurs, we've lost our most powerful tool for progressive change:  Obama's new presidency.  

    What we need right now is a public interest group to red flag problematic components in the stimulus plan, and we need to immediately repeal the rest of the bank bailout and add it back in to the new stimulus plan with specific requirements that it be used to benefit homeowners (ala the HOME/HOLC proposal by Hillary et. al.).  Our Democrats in Congress could do this, but we don't have an organized group willing to step forward with proposals.  Large advocacy groups like MoveOn are simply offering members to vote on what they want Obama to do first, with simplistic language like "end the war" and "fix the economy."  We need an organized approach that draws in Obama's millions of supporters and offers them a way to use the political clout in conjunction with the latitude Obama will have for the next few months.

    We have a progressive void that needs to be filled.  We can't just sit back and wait to see what happens with Obama's unity schtick.  We got our guy elected using the netroots, let's do the same thing to make sure we get what progressives want out of this.  Once we have an organization in place, we need to draw in blue dog Dems and moderate Republicans, and be prepared to pound on Repubs in Congress that don't cooperate with the public (and Obama's) agenda.

    I think this has "disaster" written (5.00 / 6) (#88)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:43:03 AM EST
     all over it, for a number of reasons.  I said last night that Obama's weakness is leading on big-picture issues - like the economy - because those issues cannot be fixed with the stroke of a pen on this or that executive order.  Issues like the economy and health care are extraordinarily complex, and require not just a firm grasp of the components, but a willingness to do the heard work required if they are to be resolved successfully.

    Someone has to be able not just to see the big picture, but to understand which elements are critical to success, and to refuse to give in on them.  Someone needs to grab the full and focused attention of the media and the people and round up support from the people who will be most affected - us.  Someone needs to emphasize that we cannot afford to allow the people who got us into this mess to have much say about how it is going to be fixed.  After the fox has eaten all but three of the hens, you don't give him any more opportunities to guard the henhouse; you say, "thanks - we've got this from here."

    Who, on this issue and in this situation, is that someone?  From where I sit, it doesn't look like it's Obama, but I don't see anyone else really out in front on this issue - all I see is concession and conciliation and congeniality, and a lot of Republicans in the media whining about how the Democrats are going to screw this up if we don't do things their way.  

    Is this a case of the Democratic leadership having been told to let Obama do this his way?  If so, it's long past time for that experiment to end and for Reid and Pelosi to gently explain that Obama is no longer in the legislative branch.  The economic advisory team ought to be jumping up and down and screaming that it's never going to work if Obama's going to keep giving away critical elements of it.

    The most bipartisan thing President Obama could have done, as the one who was going to change the way things are done in Washington, was to craft a bill that worked for the American people, and not just those who populate the wood-paneled offices on Capitol Hill.  

    It looks to me like we will get a weak and ineffective bill if it does pass, and a weaker and more Republican result if it fails and they have to go back to the table.

    Only Democrats could turn a Democratic presidential victory, and a stronger majority in Congress, into a lose-lose result for the people.

    The situation requires (none / 0) (#92)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:50:49 AM EST
    a President who is willing to tinker, as well.
    It's possible that a stimulus bill passed with the best of intentions will not be effective, and possibly for reasons which are not clear now.
    Is Obama the type who can slog it out?
    I hope so.

    I think "hope" of post-partisanship (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:17:00 PM EST
    with this crop of crappy conservatives, for sure, is a fairy tale.

    I suppose that makes me a racist.  Sigh.

    Ben Nelson (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by phat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:08:24 PM EST
    Ben Nelson said this morning that tax cuts don't do you any good if you don't have a job.

    Obama warned Americans (none / 0) (#1)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:31:53 AM EST
    of tougher times ahead and for the need to make greater sacrifices. In doing so, the President placed equal blame for the global financial crisis on the public's "collective failure to make hard choices" also.


    I think he avoided ... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:39:25 AM EST
    making the blame equal.

    He's avoiding (none / 0) (#8)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:45:51 AM EST
    saying. ."your going to have to get off your asses, turn the TV's off, the computer games, and start making something happen for yourself."

    That's what he's avoiding.


    your version of the the "truth" (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:19:44 AM EST
    is even more of a fantasy than the unity shtick, and  quite a bit more offensive.

    The unification of Americans of different... (none / 0) (#58)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:41:35 AM EST
    minds and beliefs to achieve common goals is fantasy...and personal responsibility is offensive?

    It's funny, one of the very few things I like about Obama's schtick...the need to end the liberal vs. conservative WWE Smackdown match our politics have become if we ever hope to solve any of our core problems...is what most everybody else seems to hate.  I guess we like pro-wrestling style politics...it is nothing more than sport to some people.  Conservatives and Liberals cutting off the nose of the nation to spite each other.

    It's little wonder things are so f*cked.  We have the government we so richly deserve.


    Yes, the suggestion that Americans (5.00 / 3) (#60)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:44:15 AM EST
    are lazy is offensive. I'm not surprised you don't get it.  Americans work more hours than people in any Western country. Laziness is NOT the problem with this economy.

    I don't think SOS was saying... (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:51:59 AM EST
    Americans are lazy...that's not how I read it.  I think he/she was saying that the government cannot solve your economic problems as well as you can.  

    Tomato or Tomahto (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:58:58 AM EST
    Of course, the fantasy that personal responsibility is the main determinant of fate is deeply embedded in American culture. We saw this in the aftermath of Katrina, when so many people blamed the victims.
    Likewise, when the economy is bad, no amount of personal initiative can make up for loss of opportunity.

    True (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:06:04 AM EST
    But there are people that DO need to take more responsibility for themselves.  It's not right/wrong scenario.  We need to help those who don't have any bootstraps to pull themselves up with, but we also need to have people take care of some things (that comes down to choices for most people).  There are many people I know [my sister and brother-in-law, for example] who always complain they have no money, can't pay their bills, but they can afford to smoke and go out to eat a couple of times a week, and they have a dog that they get groomed once a month and gets taken to the vet a lot.  It's kind of hard to have sympathy when they go to my parents to borrow money to do things like pay their mortgage when they buy new electronics all the time.

    I think if someone (or the government) gives you money to help you out, they have a right to tell you how to spend it as well.


    McCartney or Cosby/Poussaint? (none / 0) (#101)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:29:47 PM EST
    "C'mon People" or "Come on, People"

    But that's buying into (none / 0) (#106)
    by sj on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:18:20 PM EST
    designing for the lowest common denominator.  Sure there are people who need to take responsibility.  But codifying help based on the assumption that one is irresponsible is once again blaming the victim.  It's a new version of the "welfare queen" myth.

    It's true.  There well never, ever, ever be such thing as a waste-free initiative.  But I submit that the vast majority of people who need help do not actually have the resources to eat out, go to the dog groomer and buy new electronics.  Anyway, in your example the argument can be made that your relatives are already pumping money into the economy.

    As far as telling a recipient how to spend their money... excuse me?  A one-time infusion of a few bucks or a few hundred bucks did what exactly?  While a check was nice, most people want a job that will support them. (in fact, those nearly non-existent infrastructure jobs would be nice). And the ability to go to a clinic when they have aches and pains.

    As for this?

    I think if someone (or the government) gives you money to help you out, they have a right to tell you how to spend it as well.

    I say that the individual who is getting a little money is a lot less accountable for how its spent that than the corporations who are getting LOTS of LARGE chunks of money.  You want accountability?  Start there.  Where it's meaningful.


    That's more of where I was leaning (none / 0) (#113)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:48:43 PM EST
    But there is a need for people to help themselves as well.  My goodness, don't you remember the people on the TV after Election Day who were so happy because now that O has been elected they were convinced all their bills would be paid?

    No, I don't think for $500 the government should tell you what to do with it, but if you are a corporation, or more importantly, the broader theme of this "stimulus" package should be about educating the public as to how to spend this money. (Remember how people were surprised were after the first stimulus rebate in 2001 that the same amount they got back was deducted from any refund they got on their taxes, and even caused some people to end up paying taxes??)


    Okay (none / 0) (#115)
    by sj on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 03:04:24 PM EST
    Thanks for the clarification.

    Is the belief that... (none / 0) (#98)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:16:39 PM EST
    the bigger the government gets the better things are also not fantasy?  The more they take and spend the better? The less control you have over your life the happier/healthier/more prosperous you are...is this all not fantasy as well?

    I'll be on myself to survive this storm before I'll bet on Obama and Congress to guide us through.  I don't know about you but I'm surviving, one way or the other...regardless of what the congress-critters decide to do.


    Is the belief that writing (5.00 / 2) (#100)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:23:07 PM EST
    a series of complete red herrings constitutes an argument a sign of spongy libertarianism?

    I see... (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:32:04 PM EST
    a strong belief in personal responsibility to better your life is fantasy, and questioning whether a massive federal government is really in our best interest is a red herring.

    It's been a pleasure ThatOne...but obviously you've got it all figured out so maybe there is no point in a discussion, like you said the other day.  Be well and be free.


    You can't even write two (5.00 / 2) (#103)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 01:22:42 PM EST
    successive comments which are in agreement with each other. Obviously you didn't understand your own comment which I was replying to.

    One more time (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by Jjc2008 on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:05:10 AM EST
    what part of DEMOCRACY don't libertarians get?

    WE, the people.........WE are the government...you know that little cliche from the founders, of the people, by the people, for the people.

    I get so tired of hearing "the government" as if it is some entity apart from us.  It is only apart from us when some decided their energies are better used complaining than participating.


    It is apart from us... (none / 0) (#96)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:07:13 PM EST
    when it wants to arrest us.  When it declares war on us.  When it takes from the working poor and gives to the rich.  

    I don't wanna participate in any of that...I'm sorry.  If i thought it would help, maybe I would...but the government I've seen my whole life is hopeless...regardless of which team, D or R, holds the reins.  I'm in duck and cover mode.


    Well then you (none / 0) (#117)
    by Jjc2008 on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 04:07:12 PM EST
    are a part of the problem and not the solution.  People like you and Grover Norquist are eager to blame and totally uneager to work for change.  In the end, we all lose as more and more people like you want to place blame instead of work for democracy.

    In the end, it confirms my belief even more that libertarians are nothing more than greedy, self serving lazy folk who are good at placing blame but not much else.  Sorry to be so harsh but I am sick of the libertarian "pointing fingers of blame" mentality when all they want to do is complain and get high.  
    Why you even bother to be a part of progressive, democratic discussion boggles my mind.


    unfortunately, business... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:55:31 AM EST
    ...thinks it better to throw people out of work en masse rather than simply spread the pain around equally.  until we decide that fully employing our populace is more important than wild profit for the few, nothing will change.  

    That would be personal (none / 0) (#37)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:17:19 AM EST
    responsibility and individualism.  Not going to float here.  

    Virtue without opportunity doesn't put much (5.00 / 5) (#90)
    by esmense on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:45:52 AM EST
    food on the table. Personal responsibility and individualism, and creativity, can't provide many with a living in an economy that heedlessly continues to shed jobs, shrink its consumer base and undermine individual purchasing power. Too many people who run on and on about the wonders of our "market" economy seem to have forgotton what a "market" is; large numbers of people with some disposable cash in their pockets.

    The downward economic spiral we are experiencing now is an inevitable result of conservative economic policies (that focus on protecting -- "conserving" -- established wealth and economic power over creating new wealth and broadening prosperity).  

    To perceive and dismiss individuals harmed by this downward spiral as simply lacking in virtue is not simply insensitive -- it is misinformed and foolish.


    "Power Brokers" (none / 0) (#12)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:50:36 AM EST
    Despite a rash of last-minute no-shows, power brokers were on full display Wednesday as the World Economic Forum began on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland.

    The burden of the masses.

    These gulltons (none / 0) (#13)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:51:32 AM EST
    have been meeting there since 1971.

    Great job they've done huh?


    Isn't it simple? To Republicans, Obama (none / 0) (#16)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:53:13 AM EST
    is the enemy. Any compromise now is just a sign of weakness. The mechanism he is counting on is that his graciousness will peel away junior members of Congress. He thinks he can break the lock the GOP has on its votes. He thinks he can turn the GOP into a copy of the Democratic Party.
    Why bother? Why not just run them over, while enacting legislation that is good for the country?
    I aver that voters care less about partisan bickering than they do about having a government which is good for them.

    Where are the entrepenuerial (none / 0) (#20)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:59:02 AM EST

    Without those how are new jobs fit for the next century going to be created?

    We can't keep shoveling taxpayer money into business's that need a loan every month just to avoid insolvency.

    Where's the incentive (none / 0) (#21)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:00:10 AM EST
    for people to take on huge debt and risk to start these next century businesses?

    Negotiating Strategies (none / 0) (#27)
    by santarita on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:09:02 AM EST
    I always thought and still do think that Obama's post-partisan unity idea is simply a negotiating strategy elevated to the level of  a political ideal.  It scored points with the electorate, so it was an effective political tool.

    Obama may be able to  really deal a mortal blow to the Republican ideologues by using this strategy.  What I think Obama is doing is setting them  up.  He will make a great show of meeting the Republicans more than half-way and the Republicans will still vote against the bill.  He will then have exposed the intransigence and obstructionism of the ideologues.

    Given the perilous state of the global and American economy, who can say definitively if the present bill is going to work in the way that people hope?  The Congressional Dems and Republicans are advocating for what they know: the Dems want spending and the Republicans want tax and spending cuts.  I'm with Krugman in that I think spending on infrastructure programs makes more sense than tax cuts.    But it is important to create a level of confidence and trust that the economy will rebound.  Perhaps Obama believes that this can only happen if the world and the American people believe that there is bipartisan support.  To get that support Obama reognizes that the bill has to have something for everyone.

    I'm not ready to trash Obama for his negotiating strategy with regards to the Economic Stimulus Bill.  

    As a negoitating strategy (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:10:27 AM EST
    it stinks. If the Schtick is a negotiating strategy, then it is utterly misguided.

    I think it is not a negotiating strategy.

    It is a political/Media strategy.


    If it exposes the Repubs (none / 0) (#41)
    by sallywally on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:20:28 AM EST
    for what they are, that would be great. There is no question that he has made the show of reaching out, but he has also given in too much.

    In addition, this political/media strategy isn't, imo, properly comparing his actual stimulus plan to and countering the false statements the Repubs are out there every night spouting.

    If the public knows what the content of the bill is and how stupid the Repub objections are, they will clearly be for Obama and that will matter.


    The question is this (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM EST
    Is Obama achieving the plan HE believes is best for the moment.

    You and I do not think he has. But perhaps he does.

    What we call "giveaways" he may think of us good policy.


    You don't think they're... (none / 0) (#107)
    by sj on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:21:41 PM EST
    ...already exposed?  Those who can see, already see.  

    What does it take????? (none / 0) (#110)
    by lambert on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:39:07 PM EST
    To "expose the Republicans as they really are"?

    The last 8 years weren't enough?


    Politically Speaking,... (none / 0) (#77)
    by santarita on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:22:20 AM EST
    "post-partisan unity" sounds a lot better than "pragmatic expediency" or "triangulating" or "compromising".  Consensus or unity is an ideal.  The question is whether the desire to achieve consensus supersedes other ideals.  At the end of the day, I think (and hope) that Obama is more interested in establishing the perception of seeking unity as opposed to sacrificing too much to actually achieve it.

    Thus (none / 0) (#80)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:28:06 AM EST
    a political/Media strategy.

    If it is a media/political strategy, and if fails, (5.00 / 3) (#94)
    by jawbone on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:59:48 AM EST
    Obama's charm may cushion him for awhile, but Dem office holders in general will bear the brunt of the public's anger, economic disruption, and deep disappointment.

    Like, if we do not get something close to universal healthcare, I think the public will be disappointed -- and angry.

    We can't afford to not have universal care. And, think about it, Britain enacted their version when they were devastated by long, destructive years of war and that was followed by terrible economic times.  Britain had food rationing on some items into the 50's, folks. But they had the vision and strength to see what good healthcare for everyone would do for individuals, the economy, the nation.

    Maybe we're just not hurting enough for that to be doable by any of our pols. Maybe it takes actual devastation to get something like that through.

    Of course, when Labour came into power, it didn't feel it had to incorporate Tory policies and cater to Tory politicians. Heh.


    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by cotton candy on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:35:00 AM EST
    and given that the guy won and not by a small margin, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, if Republicans are all planning on voting "no" I say put back in the bill the stuff that they took out to please the GOP. Obama can then come out and say, "hey I extended my hand, compromised and they said they were going to vote against the best interest of the people so we will do it my way." It then would be hard for the GOP to scream that Obama is just being partisan when all of them vote no. No?

    Also, BTD cynical of all pols? Please.


    I hope it does happen that way (5.00 / 4) (#56)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:38:33 AM EST
    We'll get a better bill out of it. What I fear most is that he leaves the compromises in there, Republicans vote no anyway, we get bad bill that won't work, and Obama and Dems will get the blame - deservedly so for being idiots.

    Thank you, but (5.00 / 6) (#70)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:12:41 AM EST
    I would really, really, really rather not have rescuing the economy be a trial run for post-partisan unity hopey-changey political tool to show up the GOP for the dimwit ideologues that they are.

    I would rather have the economy actually rescued, if you don't mind.


    Something will be passed... (none / 0) (#81)
    by santarita on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:28:49 AM EST
    and soon.  And whatever passes will at most be a good start to fixing the economy.  

    Reminiscent of Bill Clinton (none / 0) (#82)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:33:03 AM EST
    Didn't Bill do the same thing?  Make a show of attempting to reach middle ground, then when the proverbial unstoppable force met the immovable object, Bill put the hammer down and took the message directly to the people?  I.e. here's what we did, here's what they did, who's at fault?  I am hoping this is exactly what O is doing.  At the very least, if everyone has some part of the plan, everyone will be part of any failure.

    Except (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:40:32 AM EST
    O is no BC

    Yeah, I knew BC... (5.00 / 0) (#112)
    by lambert on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:40:38 PM EST
    and O is no BC.

    Yes, well..... (none / 0) (#89)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:43:12 AM EST
    The problem with this is (none / 0) (#128)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:06:37 PM EST
    that the media is not revealing what is going on in this way. So what people hear are the right wing talking heads who have been filling the TV screens of late wringing their hands over unnecessary pork. This is what the viewing public are hearing and they are hearing no rebuttals from all the Chris Matthews out there.

    If Obama expected people to know what is going on in this way and he expected this message to get out through the media that he is working for cooperation from everyone, then he is sadly very nieve and knows nothing about the US media.  


    This is dreadful. (none / 0) (#30)
    by sallywally on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:10:27 AM EST
    He needs to just let the progressive Dems pass this. He can't afford to lose power now, and the country is behind him, not behind the Repubs or the Repub-semi-lite Blue Dogs.

    If he loses this battle, he will not be able to pass the other important legislation, and the opportunity in this crisis will be lost.

    I supported Clinton because she said she would fight and she would have.

    She must be having a lot of trouble zipping her mouth - and here we are, once more, in trouble because she isn't in the Senate.

    And what are we hearing about her activities on the foreign policy/action front? Is she being leashed? Or am I missing something?

    So . . (none / 0) (#35)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:16:39 AM EST
    we find ourselves about $10T in immediate debt with another $50T or so "owed" to retirees and the unhealthy. That would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 times GDP. Where will it all come from?

    Economic growth (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:19:02 AM EST
    is the paramount issue now.

    If 10T now scares you, imagine where we will be if we go through another Great Depression.


    Sure (none / 0) (#44)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:23:45 AM EST
    Unfortunately, the stimulation process being worked now is to save the crooked banks - not productive industry.

    Indeed (5.00 / 6) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:26:28 AM EST
    Instead of saving banks, we should have been saving homes.

    The banks would have been saved as a collateral effect.

    The reason for saving homes, besides being the right thing to do, is consumer confidence is so tied up in home values.


    "Owning" a home ( mortgage debt) has (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:34:59 AM EST
    been the main path of "wealth" creation for 99% of most people.

    Now the problem is . .

    Home Prices: Falling-plunging-can not sell. . yet property taxes remain at the new artificially inflated high.


    True that (none / 0) (#78)
    by DFLer on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:23:37 AM EST
    However,  1. home prices had risen way too high in the first place, were unrealistically inflated (and put purchasing a home for most new buyers out of reach.)  2. what percentage of homes sales during the bubble were not for homesteading, but for speculation? 3. encouraged by the financial industry, people were sold a bag of goods to create "wealth" by refinancing.

    And, if you're gonna ... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:13:52 AM EST
    save the banks, get the good side of nationalization:  Control and an equity stake.

    Of course (none / 0) (#73)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:15:02 AM EST
    GOP (none / 0) (#68)
    by jedimom on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:09:07 AM EST
    speaking of elderly poor...GOP Congressional Critters came out of that closed door meeting with Obama yesterday and said he promised entitlement reforms which scares the hexx out of me, that is NOT where we should save money..good gawd....and yes HOLC HOLC BABY!!

    I am hoping Obama is trying to get GOP on board with stimulus to make it harder for them to whine on the floor when the TARP announcements get made, which will hopefully be soon

    he should NOT be waiting to act on Housing til after the stimulus...

    TARP Tranche two is already funded and ret to go!!

    case schiller yesterday
    showed we lost 30% y/y housing values in Phoenix in 2008...we need HOLC!

    they are announcing their Bad Bank plan next week, so that should be step a, then we need HOLC step b, then stimulus step c, sadly it is pretty porked up and has less than 10% for you know the actual infrastrucutre on mass transit...


    The "Bad Bank" idea is considered bad , (none / 0) (#97)
    by jawbone on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:10:06 PM EST
    very bad, indeed, by most of the eonomists who called the the Big Sh*t Pile bad early on.

    Check out Krugman.


    What does "owed to the unhealthy" mean? (none / 0) (#95)
    by jawbone on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:02:10 PM EST
    Sounds somewhat, oh, negative about healthcare....

    CHINA! (none / 0) (#129)
    by suzieg on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 07:03:24 AM EST
    I can still hear the admonition of the nun in first grade; "Beware of the red peril!"

    Thank you, BTD, (none / 0) (#63)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 10:57:40 AM EST
    for the great post.  This 'everybody come add to the stew', I trust, is not a negotiating strategy or we are really in trouble.  As a political and media tactic, it sort of fits with his campaign theme, of trying to stop all that bickering (not mentioning, the source of the discord) in Washington so as to get things done.  However, it sure has its major downsides, such as being revealed, at some point, as being disingenuous, but more important, not getting the right bill passed in this time of crisis.  In the meanwhile, the opponents are building their own steam to subvert or undermine the key component of governmental spending.

    "Partisan bickering" (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:15:34 AM EST
    is a Broderism for actual ideological struggle, which is what we've been engaged in for the last however many years.

    "Partisan bickering" indeed.  Sheesh.


    Yes, the real way to (none / 0) (#105)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:12:15 PM EST
    get things done in Washington is to have the votes on your side.  The votes are there in both the House and Senate: trying for 80 votes in the senate, as has been reported,  is a prescription for disaster.   Obama people, like Rahm Emanuel, know that Republicans are barracudas.   So, President Obama may  extend his version of the political and media olive branch if he still thinks his campaign rhetoric resonates, but then he needs to move on--fast.  If 60 votes are OK for confirmation of the Treasury Secretary, that number should be more than OK for a country-saving economic recovery bill  unsullied by  Milton Friedman' ghostly hand.

    Big Dawg (none / 0) (#65)
    by jedimom on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 11:03:11 AM EST
    yes Big Dawg when he had the political capital pushed thru his plan in 93, however as the neoprogressoves constantly whine, the DEMS lost Congress in 94 and Obama is no Big Dawg

    I think Obama thinks if he gets GOP on board with this plan, then when we have midterms in 2010, he will maintain his majority and be able to use it to push through things that will get him back in in 2012...he is avoiding a replay in his and his advisers minds of 94 midterms...

    so again he is a pol and he does what is politically expedient for HIS benefit, and that is getting GOP votes now sacrificing true progressive goals to do so, where I believe Hillary would not have..thus my support for HRC :0)


    I agree that this is an acid test (none / 0) (#108)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:26:25 PM EST
    for Obama. I've always been cynical about the sincerity of his postpartisan approach and have seen it as political theater. His moves around bipartisanship and adjustments to the stimulus package I see in the same vein. He is showing himself the bipartisan one, reaching out to Republicans, and even making significant changes to policy to accommodate and include them. However, I take it the way Rush Limbaugh took last week's attack on him - a means to "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." If Republicans still vote against the stimulus package after being significantly accommodated, when the majority of people polled think the stimulus is needed, they become the America-hating out-of-the-mainstream obstructionists.

    I agree with Ed Kilgore's take on why what's being taken out of the package is being chosen:

    It's pretty clear by now that the GOP case against the stimulus package is going to be less about its overall size or its necessity, and probably less about spending-versus-tax-cuts than earlier propaganda hinted, and more about "frivolous spending" or "expansion of big government" or "pork." The idea is that this isn't an economic stimulus package at all, but decades worth of pent-up "liberal" policy changes. And that's why GOPers are focusing on family planning money and "welfare" and reseeding the National Mall. It's an effort to do the same number on Obama as Republicans did on Bill Clinton in 1993 with his "stimulus bill," which may or may not have funded a municipal swimming pool somewhere in Texas, and in 1994 on the Omnibus Crime Bill, with its famous "midnight basketball" provisions.

    It's anybody's guess whether these attack lines will get any serious traction with the public, or sway any moderate-to-conservative Democrats in the Senate. The Senate will almost certainly conduct some surgery to remove spending categories that are particularly subject to parody (as happened in the House at the last minute, when "reseeding the Mall," and, more controversially, Medicaid contraceptive services were deleted). But the odds that something pretty close to Obama's original proposal will be enacted remain very high.

    However, this is speculation at this point. We're coming down to seeing what really is or isn't by how this plays out. What it will turn on is whether "something pretty close to Obama's original proposal will be enacted" or not.

    Ed is proposing triangulation (none / 0) (#109)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:33:54 PM EST
    Just so we are clear.

    Not in that post he's not (none / 0) (#111)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:39:41 PM EST
    He's talking about the optics as part of a clarifying and polarizing strategy.

    Yes he is (none / 0) (#114)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 02:57:23 PM EST
    He is talking about abandoning policy positions because of how the GOP will play it.

    This is the very definition of triangulation. See, eg, welfare reform.


    Nonsense (none / 0) (#116)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 03:16:07 PM EST
    Triangulation would be what the media is asking for - vetoing if it doesn't get enough Rethug votes. Kilgore is talking about the similarity in the Republican approach, not Obama's.

    Taking out selected things that can be too easily misconstrued serves the purpose of appearing to accommodate those on the other side willing to work constructively with you and clarifying your own stand on what you're trying to accomplish.

    You'd have to see taking out those particular items as essential to progressive economic stimulus to hold your position. I don't. I see them as expendable at this time in this context, and the contraception funding as likely to reappear in a health bill, eugene's argument for it as economic stimulus notwithstanding.


    Heh (none / 0) (#118)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 04:53:16 PM EST
    That is capitulation, not triangulation.

    IF triangulation is what you describe, bill clinton never triangulated.


    Well, (none / 0) (#119)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 05:26:16 PM EST
    the dynamic now is profoundly different anyway, as Sirota describes. Trying to force what's happening now into a frame from another time, in terms of Is it or isn't it Clintonian triangulation? is really just silly and beside the point. He's not running against his own party and constituency, he's not "abandoning" his own policies, he's making some tactical adjustments to nonessentials in order to be able to show up the opposition most effectively as WATB losers while getting through what the economy needs.

    I don't believe what's being pared away will compromise the overall effectiveness of the plan to help the economy. After all, it is "just the first steps in a larger action plan to address financial regulations, home foreclosures and banks." I don't believe Obama has gotten as far as he has by being stupid. And shooting himself in the foot by destroying the effectivenss of his own plan now for no reason, while he's at the height of his power, would kind of fall into the category of stupid.


    You must be joking (none / 0) (#120)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 05:30:07 PM EST
    You write  "He's not running against his own party and constituency, he's not "abandoning" his own policies, he's making some tactical adjustments . . "

    Of course he is. That is the point of taking out those parts of the bill.

    It is precisely triangulation.


    That's a very strange view (5.00 / 1) (#121)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 05:42:23 PM EST
    you have if you see what's happening as triangulation. If he were saying he was taking them out because of those dang liberals I might agree with you. He's not dropping them to look more "centrist" out of weakness the way Clinton operated. He's specifically stating it's in hope of drawing Republicans into constructive engagement in the process for the good of the country when he could clearly win without them. Very, very different in its public impact. Because he has the upper hand unlike what Clinton had.

    So you think he can't make any tactical changes at all without it being triangulation. Riiight.


    Oh really? (none / 0) (#122)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 05:57:45 PM EST
    "He's not dropping them to look more "centrist" out of weakness the way Clinton operated."

    I feel quite confident that Clinton said something like this -- "He's specifically stating it's in hope of drawing Republicans into constructive engagement in the process for the good of the country when he could clearly win without them."


    As you yourself point out, (none / 0) (#123)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 06:04:02 PM EST
    Clinton only began triangulating once he lost a Dem majority. So if he did say something so Obamaist he was simply putting the best face on a bad situation. :)

    Sure (none / 0) (#124)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 06:07:04 PM EST
    But that has nothign to do with the act of triangulating.

    That Clinton was more justified in triangulating than Obama is hardly support for Obama triangulating.


    Heh, you're funny (none / 0) (#125)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 06:21:35 PM EST
    I'd like to hear your definition of triangulation then. Because it's sure as heck different from mine. To me it's positioning yourself against your own side. I don't see Obama doing any positioning against his own party. Picking and choosing what to put forward and what not to at any particular time in order to gain the maximum political benefit is not the same as triangulation. If it were, everything a politician does would be triangulation.

    Triangulation (none / 0) (#126)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 06:24:25 PM EST
    has a very easily understood term - it is splitting the position between the two parties.

    In essence, the perfect example of it was Clinton on welfare reform.

    Obama split the difference between the GOP and Dems in the stimulus bill by (1) enacting many business tax cuts, (2) removing programs wanted by Dems and opposed by the GOP.

    this is rahter simple frankly.

    I am no longer amused by your deliberate obtuseness.


    OK (none / 0) (#127)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 06:30:17 PM EST
    I'll agree with your last sentence at least.

    Enjoy your bots and pumas.