How To Lose An Argument In Order To, Maybe, Win An Election
What is the Obama Team up to on the budget and other political battles? The attempt, it appears to me, is to triangulate, and be perceived as the Sensible Center, as opposed to "Radical Right" Republicans and "Loony Left" Democrats. Consider this from the New York Times:
The battle in Wisconsin over public employee unions has left President Obama facing a tricky balance between showing solidarity with longtime political supporters and projecting a message in favor of deep spending cuts to reduce the debt. [. . .] Republicans [have] seized the opportunity to depict Mr. Obama as siding against deficit-cutting efforts, [but] some Democrats and union organizers said the political benefit ultimately could be theirs.
"Some Democrats and union leaders" mistake Obama's "political benefits" with their own. Obama's is to win reelection in 2012. Union organizers and, hopefully, "some Democrats," are to represent their constituents. Their interests are not perfectly aligned. Consider Obama's interest in being perceived as being in "favor of deep spending cuts." Since The Deal, Obama has been in favor of losing the argument about the deficit (it's not about tax policy, it's about spending - the Norquist Message, is now the Obama Message) in order to win reelection in 2012. That is not likely in the political interests of "some Democrats and union organizers." More . . .
My suspicion is that if Obama gets Republicans to put a bit more money in their proposed continuing resolution, he'll declare victory. Right now, Democrats are offering $40 billion in cuts to the federal budget as compared to the Republicans $60 billion in cuts. I smell a compromise in the $54 to $56 billion cut range.
The question then will be, for Obama at least, will this help him politically? I'm skeptical that lowering aggregate demand will help him (yes, less government spending now means less aggregate demand.)
For the rest of us, the issue is the policy. And since December, Obama has supported atrocious public policy. The Deal was where this all started and the effects of The Deal will infect every fiscal policy decision made for at least the next two years.
Obama is clearly banking on losing the policy debate in order to win reelection.Whether that works remains to be seen.
Speaking for me only
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