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

< The Deal And How Grover Norquist Has Won | The Lost Argument On Tax Policy: "Shared Sacrifice" Edition >
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    Too nuanced/esoteric for joe sixpack. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Yes2Truth on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 10:04:29 AM EST

    Won't help Pres. booshama win reelection.

    The conversation: (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 01:59:06 PM EST
    Obama: I shrunk the national debt!
    joe6pack: who cares, I'm still unemployed.

    Yes, it is a short conversation.


    We'll be moving from The Deal to (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 10:38:34 AM EST
    The Grand Bargain, wherein, once again, Obama claims some kind of victory for getting a "bipartisan" agreement that will prove to the American people that the two parties can "work together" - leaving unsaid "to pretty much put the screws to the majority of the population and leave people wishing there was a way, in the next election, to throw all of them out of office."

    Republicans have honed their skills these last two years, successfully playing Obama on every major issue that has led to this moment, and they aren't going to abandon that now - not when he is poised to give them what they want (and I'm pretty sure the GOP started at an outrageous number knowing they could get Obama to agree on whatever smaller number he offers them in a geture of goodwill).

    I guess Obama is not counting on being re-elected by the same demographic that won it for him last time, and I'm not sure how far a campaign of fear (ooh, those other guys are worse!  The Supreme Court!  Roe v. Wade!) and guilt ("if you don't vote for Obama, you will be responsible for the election of the evil Republicans!) will take him in getting actual Democrats to the polls to vote for him.

    He has to know, doesn't he, that this policy isn't going to spur demand and lead to job creation?  And that if the economy - and I don't mean the stock market and corporate profits - isn't tangibly better, that he's not going to reap political benefits?

    None of it makes any sense to me, and I wish I didn't have that feeling that we're being witness to Obama's Psychodrama of Abandonment when what we should be witness to is leadership based on good Democratic policy - the kind that used to look out for the least among us because life is better for everyone when it's better even for the people at the bottom.

    There is no real relief though of (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 12:38:44 PM EST
    any kind for the middle class, and the economic pressures will continue to build this year.  They also keep preaching that things are getting better but have now requested that "the banks" stress test for 11% unemployment now.  Why is that?

    Will such a thing work in such dire times?  I don't see how any of this pans out and you have millions and millions living in desperate circumstances for years, we have crossed over into populations that haven't experienced desperation that cannot eventually be overcome and some relief found by making good decisions for themselves and exercising them.

    If this particular bit of political positioning (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 01:48:28 PM EST
    were not diametrically opposed to economic recovery, it might work. But I think the stalled recovery brought about by even more layof...oh, excuse me, austerity, will offset any political benefit.

    His reelection chances are mainly dependent on the choice of opponent, IMO. It did not have to be this way.

    Depends on whether R's nominee is ConservaCrazy (none / 0) (#6)
    by jawbone on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:53:10 PM EST
    or passes as relatively sane. If they choose the latter, Obama might come close but will not win. If they choose a ConservaCrazy all the triangulating in the world won't help the Big O.

    And, I fear that Obama's tendency to cater to the right and corporations did not start with the December Deal. It's what he wanted all along, so he has taken care of his financial overlords with bailouts and back door Fed largesse, taken care of Big Whatever Business wants, has cemented the Unitary Executive powers, etc.

    Oh, drat--meant to say all the triangulating just (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by jawbone on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:55:18 PM EST
    might get him through to reelection. But it won't help Obama with lots and lots of Democratic voters.

    Thanks for the clarification (none / 0) (#8)
    by sj on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 08:41:59 AM EST
    I kept reading the original comment and it did not compute.

    Now it does.