Political Bargaining and The Presidential Bully Pulpit

Ezra Klein writes:

The Obama administration is weighing whether to go big or go small in their jobs plan next week. I think the answer is clear: they should go big so they can go small. [. . . T]he more he identifies himself with particular solutions, the more he poisons those solutions for the Republican Party. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) simply cannot come out and say that ďthe presidentís jobs plan is a sensible, pragmatic package for moving America forward that correctly takes the best ideas from both sides into account.Ē The moment Obama mentions a policy in a big speech, it becomes that much less likely to pass a divided Congress.

Apparently, asking for more than you expect to get in a negotiation is now understood by Ezra. I welcome his enlightenment on this point. But of course, the reality is nothing will be agreed to on stimulus, something Ezra seems to recognize. Good for Ezra, whose thinking on the President's power to set the agenda has also appeared to evolve.:

If Obama gives a speech focused only on the putatively bipartisan ideas that can pass, he hurts himself on two levels: his speech wonít be very inspiring, as those policies arenít very inspiring, and he will have taken the most plausible compromise proposals and made them less likely to win Republican support. The White House political team would like respond to this analysis by saying that occupying the middle makes clear how extreme the Republicans are, but thatís been the strategy for a year now and Obama is at 40 percent in the polls. Perhaps itís time to try something different.

So go big. Iím not a believer in the power of presidential rhetoric to move the opposition, but thereís no doubt that, when yoked to the right policy proposals and legislative strategy, itís capable of moving the agenda. And this is a good time for the Obama administration to move the agenda.

What's strange to me about all this is there is nothing here that did not apply previously. The President should have "gone big" on everything. You can always settle for less, and it allows you to say that your preferred policies were blocked by the Republicans.

In any event, better late than never. Certainly better than continuing the "President is powerless" line.

Speaking for me only

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    He still doesn't get it, though (5.00 / 15) (#2)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:07:53 AM EST
    "I'm not a believer in the power of presidential rhetoric to move the opposition..."

    The power of presidential rhetoric is not meant to move the opposition, it is meant to talk PAST the opposition to the PEOPLE to change PUBLIC opinion.  If the opposition doesn't come along when the public does, then the opposition will cease to be relevant, which they already should have been rendered.  Better late than never, but I still worry never is the game.

    And even the second part of that quote... (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:09:15 AM EST
    ....doesn't really grasp it.  You move an agenda by moving voters, who then move their pols or vote them out.

    I was going to mention that (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:09:06 AM EST
    but decided to stay positive.

    probably a good call (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:09:42 AM EST
    positive is good.  i couldn't help noticing though.

    We have a block of voters (2.00 / 1) (#31)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 05:02:15 PM EST
    who control a block of pols who will not move and whose very existence is dependent on their celebrated immovability.  That block makes the changes needed impossible.

    Now what?


    If you want to talk real solutions (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:00:45 PM EST
    You are going to have to start naming names and using some details, cut all this ethereal waftiness.

    Geezus (5.00 / 6) (#50)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 01:56:51 AM EST
    X on a bicycle!  You appeal to the voters!  Is the concept really that difficult for you?

    If the voters think Obama is really on their side, which they don't because they're smart, whether he wins a battle with Congress or not, they'll support him and the down-ticket Dems at the polls and throw at least some of the TP bums out.

    I'm baffled by the utter lack of understanding of basic Politicking 101 by you and so many other O devotees.


    You ignore them (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Dadler on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 10:00:34 AM EST
    Entirely, because their demands and irrationality deserve to be ignored.  And you worry about being smarter and more creative.  You DO NOT worry about placating insane people in the name of unity or comity or any nicety.  You play YOUR game, you never allow the other side to dictate how you play.  But that is ALL Obama does.

    its more than a little scary... (none / 0) (#72)
    by nonebetterthantheother on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 06:44:01 PM EST
    ...someone elevated to Ezra's access and status does not seem to understand the workings of the bully pulpit.

    So when Ezra was negotiating (5.00 / 9) (#7)
    by observed on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:24:06 AM EST
    a salary from Newsweek, do you think he started by asking for $15,000?

    I know you're trying to stay (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:42:28 AM EST
    positive, BTD - something I think must be getting harder and harder to do with less and less - and it's all well and good that today, Ezra seems to be seeing the light most of us have needed sunglasses for it's been so bright - but what does it mean that, even at this stage of things, Obama still doesn't know what his plan is going to be?

    And yet, behind the scenes Obama and top aides had yet to reach agreement on the major tenets of that plan, and it remained unclear whether the president was looking for narrower ideas with a realistic chance of passing the Republican-led House or more sweeping stimulus proposals that would excite his liberal base and draw contrasts with the GOP [...]

    Obama offered few hints Monday.

    "I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle-class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation's roads and railways and airports, and all the other measures that can help to grow this economy," he said.

    Obama said the plan would consist of "bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind, no matter what your political affiliation might be."

    We know where his comfort zone is, but we also know that even when he's in that zone, he still manages to make whatever he proposes smaller as soon as he meets any resistance.  And of course, he's going to get resistance.  The day John Boehner and Mitch McConnell applaud Obama for coming up with a plan "everyone" can agree on is the day pigs fly; why doesn't Obama know that?

    It's discouraging to me that the emphasis - as usual - is not on actual policy prescriptions, but on the politics of what is possible.  He's working process for political reasons, not for the greater good.

    It's as if, in the wake of a hurricane, Obama passes on the idea of making sure there is a vast supply of chainsaws, generators, wet/dry vacs and ice, and opts to hand out coupons for a free round of golf.

    I don't think there's any reason to believe that this is where Obama breaks out of his comfort zone, nor do I have any reason to believe Ezra won't be able to retreat to his own comfort zone - the one where he can justify and excuse Obama's appalling lack of leadership, imagination and will.

    Too technocratic (none / 0) (#10)
    by lilburro on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:51:43 AM EST
    "Meet Alan Krueger, my newer, better appointee!"

    The only part of that WaPo article that sounds good is this:

    He is also developing programs to target long-term unemployment, potentially including a version of a Georgia unemployment insurance program that pays employers to hire workers who have been unemployed and provides funding for training.

    That's different and sounds like it's worth a shot.


    It's not very imaginative at all (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by sj on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 12:29:27 PM EST
    Maryland has such a program.  Frankly, it has proven to be a windfall for recruiting firms that provide consultants.  But they were looking for those candidates anyway.  

    It has improved things this much:  typically, it is easier to find a job if you already have a job.  This does give a little leg up to those who are unemployed.  But not one single new job has been created.  It is demand that does that.

    Seriously think about it.  It is just another corporate giveaway.


    Yes free labor for corporations (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by smott on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 03:42:39 PM EST
    What's not to like?

    It's not a big hit amongst analysts and apparently has not shown much success.

    BTW here's Hugh on the new guy:


    Here's the GA thing:

    ANyway I'm at the point that if Obama praises some new initiative, I pretty much think it will just transer more wealth upwards.


    All I can (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 04:45:51 PM EST
    tell you is that in GA we have over 10% unemployment. So why would anyone in their right mind be looking at GA for solutions is beyond me.

    The guy's considered (none / 0) (#51)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 01:59:42 AM EST
    a "labor economist."  The fact that the Fox people and all the other right-wingers are going unusually ballistic about his appointment should tell you something.

    I think Obama needs to paint a picture (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by lilburro on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:45:56 AM EST
    he needs to talk about the state of the global economy, and how irresponsibility clearly has already hurt us due to the rating downgrade and stock market madness of early August.  IMO anyway he works best and seems most comfortable when he's on a global stage.  I'd like to see him tie domestic problems to global ones, and then offer solutions.  Deficit and spending rhetoric is all I've heard from the GOP and their candidates; suggesting that the problem is more complicated than that is territory better suited to Dems (and also, uh, accurate).  I mean, what does Rick Perry really have to say about the global financial crisis?  Remember, this guy is dumber than Bush.

    I bet Huntsman would have interesting (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 12:14:02 PM EST
    things to say about his experience in China, if he were set free from the anti-intellectualism of his party.

    Huntsman (none / 0) (#32)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 05:03:12 PM EST
    could be the biggest threat to the Dems in 2016.  I fear him.

    He is smart and rational.


    I agree (none / 0) (#38)
    by loveed on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 06:59:43 PM EST
    We will see how bad the repub. want to win.
      Will they get cocky like the dems.with Kerry. Thinking any Dem. would beat Bush(I was for Clark). I knew Kerry was going to lose.
     Or will they want to win so bad,they go with Huntsman.
     Time will tell.

    He's not getting anywhere (none / 0) (#52)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 02:01:29 AM EST
    near the nomination even in 2016.  The Tea Party madness will not have burned itself out by then, IMO.

    Huntsman job plan tomorrow (none / 0) (#37)
    by loveed on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 06:51:58 PM EST
    Should be interesting.

     This is what I don't understand about Obama. First he announces, he will reveal his job plan after he come back from vacation. Now a week before his plan comes out,still no final plan.
     Everyone knows you go big or bigger. To find common ground. You put a lot things you really don't want. Especially thing republican will never agree to. Fight over the things you really don't want. Stand firm on the thing you really do want. Politics 101.
     There are people who are really hurting right now. No job,losing there home,hungry children.
    He makes them wait about a month. And he still have no plan.
     Jobs was the issue 3yrs ago. Jobs is the issue now. I don't mean Rick Perry type jobs. Real jobs.

     I know a lot of people think I'm a repub. I am just an American.
     Did not vote for Obama the last time.But if Rick Perry is the repub.nominee. I will vote for Obama.


    I would like to give (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 01:04:59 PM EST
    Ezra Klein's article kudos, but I read it with mixed emotions, sort of like what I imagine would be going on in the head of an al Qaeda #3 being promoted to al Qaeda #2.   On the one hand, it is good to note Ezra's newly grasped idea of effective negotiation, but on the other, I am not at all sure that this epiphany is his own. Or, that it is to be of long duration.

    After all Ezra's strength lies more in the realm of conduction than originality. But as a conduit for White House ideas we are likely being treated to a campaign peep show: the spin being that this bipartisanship worked well over the past three years and much was achieved that otherwise could not.  Now, we must change governing strategies (i.e., electoral danger is sensed and re-election will require the jettisoning of attempts at bipartisanship).  After the election, the administration can return to additional rounds of bipartisanship "going forward."

    Well sourced backchannel talk (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 01:48:47 PM EST
    that the president will include raising the Medicare to 67 in his big post-Labor Day "jobs" announcement. A little background:

    Before negotiations on a debt-ceiling deal broke down, Politico reported that the president and John Boehner had agreed on "gradually increasing the eligibility age from 65 to 67 over about two decades, according to administration and Republican congressional sources."

    But that's just one story, and it only cites two sources. Maybe those sources were wrong. Did anybody double-check? As as matter of fact, yes.

    According to five separate sources (emphasis ours) with knowledge of negotiations -- including both Republicans and Democrats -- the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67.

    Note the language: "The president offered..." The Republicans didn't demand it. Reports say that the president offered it.

    8 reasons why this is one of the worse bargains the president could make.

    1. It would save money at the Federal level -- but it would cost more everywhere else.
    2. It's brutal on seniors. In fact, it's like a 20 percent cut in Social Security benefits.
    3. It would lead to benefit cuts and create more job discrimination against older workers.
    4. Its impact is made even worse by the president's demand that a "health excise tax" on higher-cost plans be included in last year's health bill.
    5. The number of uninsured Americans will go up.
    6. Health system costs will increase, too.
    7. It doesn't address the real cost problem -- chronic health conditions.
    8. It's a step in the wrong direction.

    Politics aside, this idea is a recipe for economic disaster. And if it's coupled with reductions to Social Security it will become an economic tsunami -- that is, if it isn't one already.

    And yet... (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by sj on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 02:06:26 PM EST
    ... some people think he is just a milquetoast who gets rolled at negotiation.  It is so clear to me that he is only getting rolled in the direction that he already wants to go.  

    How many more of these (5.00 / 5) (#18)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 02:20:32 PM EST
    flaming bags of dog poop does Obama want to leave on our doorsteps and then run away from?  

    I probably shouldn't even ask.

    Hard to think of another Democratic president who made it his mission to do so much for so few, and so little for so many, in record time.  

    Obama: Bonuses for the rich, bones for the poor.


    In a NYT op ed (Aug 22, 20ll) (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 04:43:02 PM EST
    by Ezekiel Emmanuel (Rahm's brother, and advisor on HCA) and Jeffrey Liebman, cuts in Medicare were discussed.  While several of their ideas on "smart cuts" were, in my view, off base, they did state that.. "cost-shifting cuts don't actually reduce health care spending. They just shift from government to the private sector."  "Increasing the age eligibility to 67 from 65, as Senators Tom Coburn and Joe Lieberman have proposed and as the Obama Administration reportedly floated, is a classic example." .."The shifts are to individuals and businesses. It would increase the number of uninsured 65 and 66 year- olds leading to worse health outcomes and making it harder for older Americans to find work."

    It's such an appalling idea (none / 0) (#53)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 02:05:27 AM EST
    both in policy and political terms that it's positively breath-taking.  It's hard to fathom what the reasoning of the smart boys in the White House could possibly be on this.

    Forcing 65 and 66 year olds (none / 0) (#57)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:40:18 AM EST
    In this dog eat dog cut throat employment existence we now have to find private for profit insurance at a time in their life when they are prone to major health breakdowns seems positively barbaric.  I am so sick of this garbage coming out of this administration.  If they wanted to be humane human beings EVER there had to be a public option, and that was that.

    My wish for Obama is that his life go right down the tubes after he leaves the White House, and he is broke when he is 65 and trying to find employment and insurance for himself and his wife.  He is a pathetic human being in many ways.  I'm used to Republicans and Joe Lieberman being this disgusting and vile, but not Democrats.  They have all lost their way and lost their damn minds.


    And, the increase in Medicare age (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 07:02:10 PM EST
    eligibility is likely to show up in Cat Food II, especially with the impetus of the president.   I continue to believe that the country will be better off if Cat Food II goes the way of Cat Food I, and the mandatory cuts go into effect.  The appointment, announced by co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R. TX) and Senator Patty Murray (D. WA), of Mark Prater, Senior Republican Senate Finance Committee aide, to serve as Cat Food II's top staffer only confirms my view.  It almost (just almost) makes me yearn for the good old days when Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles were at the helm of Cat Food I.

    I reached (none / 0) (#40)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 07:16:25 PM EST
    the same conclusion that you did....

    And if the cuts go down (none / 0) (#58)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:42:29 AM EST
    The screaming of the rich moneyed not getting that glorious government money will be deafening.  Not that I give a damn.

    Big mistake.....huge mistake (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 02:26:07 PM EST
    You know, it really bothered me listening to Romney pull out the stops this morning about how he was going to be such a good wartime President too.  It almost made me throw up a little in my mouth remembering us trying to survive the Bush years and how they handed out illegal orders in Iraq and dared soldiers to not preform them and risk prosecution.

    And every phucking Republican in power rubber stamped the Bush administration's every wartime decision.

    I was getting ready tonight to write a big diary on it and how President Obama has never done any of that and post it tomorrow, but PI$$ ON Obama.  I've so phucking had it.  I want to support him, but every other day all he can do are things that make me despise him.  I will not reward bad behavior, I will not sweat, I will not toil, I will not do it! Stop being a dirtbag so I can like you again man!


    Re (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 02:30:38 PM EST
    Rewarding bad behavior...to me that's what the next presidential election is about. Should we reward Obama's poor performance simply because the GOP MIGHT be worse.

    But, but.... the Supreme Court! (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 02:41:14 PM EST
    As I see it (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 03:38:10 PM EST
    (and I know you're snarking)

    People can avoid pregnancy if abortion becomes illegal.

    People can't avoid starving if they have no money.  People can't avoid dying if they have no health care.

    I can't reward evil with my vote.  


    That comment is pretty cavalier. (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by honora on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:30:30 AM EST
    Rape victims can not "avoid" pregnancy. In addition, birth control (even when used correctly) is not 1000% effective.  So unless you are advocating that women within their child bearing years completely abstain from sex and rape, pregnancy is not always 'avoidable'.  I think more Americans are faced with unwanted pregnancy than are faced with starvation.  

    I didn't read that as cavalier at all (none / 0) (#60)
    by sj on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 10:49:39 AM EST
    I read that as akin to:

    If I have to choose between losing my arms or my legs I'll choose to lose my legs because I can "always" use crutches or a wheel chair.

    We are now in the position where we must prioritize our priorities.  ugh


    No (none / 0) (#65)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:18:23 PM EST
    I'm suggesting that getting pregnant is far less of a problem than starving to death or dying without medical care.  And when you're 65 and your employment options are limited, that is what Obama wants you to do.

    The reality is that pregancy from rape is rare......and yes, if abortion becomes illegal, then yes, you shouldn't have sex if you can't support a child because birth control is not 100% effective.

    It's not as great of a hardship to abstain from sex as it is to starve to death (because of insurance premiums) or die without medical care or money.

    Besides, a person so evil that he would put the elderly's lives essentially on the table is not exactly trustworthy on the abortion front either.

    I still hold my position....


    I am sure that more Americans die (none / 0) (#75)
    by honora on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 07:18:27 PM EST
    from pregnancy complications and attempted abortions than from starvation. Just saying.  Of course, pregnant women asked for it.

    2 things (5.00 / 4) (#66)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:27:04 PM EST
    1.  2% less evil is still evil.

    2.  Putting Social Security and Medicare on the table without even having been asked, cannot be rewarded in a Democrat.  

    3.  A vote for "the team" no matter what will only guarantee that the Democrats will move further right.  If you ever want to have a Democratic party again, you can't reward what Obama has done.

    Strawman (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Romberry on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 07:16:04 PM EST
    Rick Perry is not electable unless this nation has well and truly lost its mind. Obama is praying for a Rick Perry or a Bachmann or Palin nomination.

    'Tend to agree,Romberry (none / 0) (#80)
    by christinep on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 10:33:32 PM EST
    A big caveat, tho: I remember how everyone (including me) laughed about the possibility of a Reagan presidency--heck, my husband took the first four years to realize that Reagan had really won--until he was elected. Much as it is hard to believe that someone like Gov Rick "America Second" Perry could win, it is important to remember...and to be eternally vigilant. (A friend & I were discussing his emulation of the Reagan model...bit by bit...first the move to browner-hued suits...then the gradually changing hair style...next, the walk.)

    If is the (none / 0) (#55)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 06:20:30 AM EST
    best defense any one can come up with as a reason to vote for Obama it speaks volumes about Obama's term as President.

    Someone like Perry is Obama's best hope. What happens if the GOP nominates someone who's not crazy?


    efficacy (5.00 / 4) (#25)
    by dandelion on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 03:46:05 PM EST
    How about instead of going big or small, the Obama administration concern itself with going effective.  That would be a new one:  actually concerning itself with what works rather than what sells, actually concerning itself with results for the people rather than results for its legislative tally.

    But why would anyone in DC care about efficacy?  

    Isn't unemployment in the DC area around 4%.

    In LA County it's 12.5% and my guess is they've probably just thrown up their hands and stopped counting in places like Michigan, those places where the Creative Class never ventures.

    It's over 10% in Chicago (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Towanda on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 04:29:02 PM EST
    -- the number that is admitted, so twice that with undercounting and underemployment -- so you would think that Obama would get word of that, even in the rarified and prosperous air of D.C., from his re-election HQ.

    But then, his bus tour of the Midwest avoided any cities.  And you can bet that was noticed here.


    Rumblings (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 04:54:13 PM EST
    I know this will make some people mad (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by loveed on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 10:16:06 PM EST
     The right title for Obama is African-American. He is not black. There is a difference.
     Being Black is a state of mind from living an growing up in Mainland America.
     I can't explain it. It just something inside where you feel different. You have nappy hair,you had big lips, dark skin. This is how in the 50s&60;s Blacks discriminated against each other. Light skin blacks were considered better than dark skins.
     A lot alcoholism.Unwed mothers.Physical abuse.Lots of people living in close quarters.
     When you watched TV, no blacks unless they were maids and butlers. Or buffoon's. In the poor schools almost all black boys took auto mechanics,and the girl's home economics. So we could fix there cars and clean there houses. My brother IQ was 140.
     Parents fears from the past. There grandparents were slaves. Broken families inbred from slavery.
      But there was also a strong sense of pride. Home Training(manners) was a big deal. You never wanted the neighbor to tell your parent that you were misbehaving, while they were at work. The whole neighborhood was your babysitter.The elderly never had to carry there groceries. There word was the law. And respect was demanded.The old ladies on our street,were the scariest people in the world.
     It was drilled into us" You can be anything that you want to be,if you work hard to get". Even in our all black schools,our teachers told us we could be president,because we were Americans. After school we went to the library.  
     I walked all over the city of Cleveland with my brothers(we spent our bus fare). Without any fears.From the art museum to the lakefront.
     No white person has ever called me the N-word. But a lot of blacks have.
     But I didn't live in Birmingham or Montgomery. I remember coming home from church, when the word of the bombing spread through the black community. The anger and the fear not just in the black community, also in the white community.
     I watched in horror as the civil rights revolution unfolded on the tv. The dogs,the hoses,the lynching,the beating. I could not believe this was my country. And neither could white America.
     The country came together.The whites outnumbered the blacks in the movement. Blacks were only about 10% of the population at that time.
     We marched side by side,arms interlocking together. Singing together. Changing the country together.
     Obama knows nothing about being black in America.
    I don't why these black leader don't know this. He's never been poor.When was he every around black people? When have Obama every said he would do anything for the poor and blacks?
     He banned Jesse & Al from the main convention floor. I don't agree with them. But he wouldn't be President without them. Both was leader in the movement. Hell I even voted for Jesse once for President.
     Bill Clinton will always be my 1st black president.
     And as far as jobs for blacks.Maybe next term.

    Yep, there's the criticism of the tour (none / 0) (#41)
    by Towanda on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 07:53:26 PM EST
    to Peoria, not Chicago -- nor any other sizeable city -- and the criticism of so much more. . . .

    Hey now! (none / 0) (#26)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 03:58:24 PM EST
    DC area has 6.2%!

    Anything (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 10:55:34 AM EST
    is better than the "president is powerless" line and less annoying to boot.

    I have to wonder though has Obama learned anything through all this? It seems he didn't learn anything from the negotiations last December when it came to the debt ceiling.

    Yep - Ezra learning is step 1 (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:08:41 AM EST
    Obama learning is step  lord-only-knows.

    Definitely positive: (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 12:49:56 PM EST
    Apparently, asking for more than you expect to get in a negotiation is now understood by Ezra.

    More of this please!! (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 12:59:10 PM EST
    It was not pleasant this morning watching Mittens be able to pretend he is going to be the man of many jobs.  All the while, his economic philosophy can do nothing but destroy American jobs.

    Which Pile of Phake & Phony Crap Will Get VIII (none / 0) (#22)
    by seabos84 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 02:56:44 PM EST
    Raygun the 8th re-elected?

    at least ezra isn't worried about real policy which would really work!

    which pile of garbage can be best sold as NOT a stinking fetid pile, so the droolers keep the sell outs employed for another 4 years?



    Counterpoint (none / 0) (#33)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 05:12:28 PM EST
    Yglesias. I agree with it completely.  There is no winning policy strategy to some degree.  There is only political strategy:

    The debate within the Democratic Party over President Obama's incipient economic relief program is being conducted between two sides that totally misunderstand its purpose. On the one side, you have administration centrists who support a sufficiently narrow plan that can pass Congress . . . And on the other side, you have liberals who demand boldness. . .

    The moderates who think Obama can whittle his proposals down to the point where Congress will let them sail through simply haven't been paying attention to the GOP's strategic decision to deny Obama bipartisan cover. And the liberals who insist on a big plan seem to be in denial

    This does not mean there is nothing Obama can do. But his plan needs to be understood as a political strategy, not as a legislative strategy. . .

    This seems to be a reality liberals have trouble acknowledging. There are a lot of issues where the public agrees with the left. Economic stimulus does not appear to be one of them. Now, public opinion is fairly hazy and ill-informed about this, and certain elements of economic stimulus can command majorities. But the passage of the first stimulus, at the height of Obama's popularity, shows pretty clearly that people instinctively think that, when the economy is terrible, having the government spend a lot of new money is not going to help. That they're wrong doesn't really matter for the purposes of this question."


    Yglesias agrees:


    "Hack Gap" is a good name for the distance between the liberal blogs I read and the moderate ones.  Neither side seems to acknowledge the weaknesses in their position.

    And before this stuff is dismissed, Yglesias has some red meat for the regulars here:

    "But precisely the reaction you'll get to any institutionally feasible stimulus at this point is that it's a poorly targeted, inefficient desperation move. And in a sense, that's true. The best time to get this right was back in 2009 when the White House had a much stronger hand."


    And that's the losing strategy (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Towanda on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 07:54:32 PM EST
    There is no winning policy strategy to some degree.  There is only political strategy:

    The public is about as ill-informed about (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 08:46:33 PM EST
    the economy, about the government's role in spending, about what "austerity" really means, as it is possible to be.  When you don't have the right information, when the information you are being given is designed to move you in a particular direction, that's going to be reflected in polls.  How could it not be?  

    Obama is all about getting re-elected now; there is nothing he is going to propose, nothing he is going to do, that is going to amount to a whole lot of anything that's going to help as many people as better economic policy needs to be geared to helping.

    He has nothing new to offer; it's all old, tired GOP ideas, re-shaped, re-labeled, that have never worked.

    One thing to note: this "plan" he's going to propose will be paid for with spending cuts in other areas, and that's why it's going to fail in its mission to create jobs and get the economy moving up.

    A colossal failure of imagination and will.


    Obama should have settled (none / 0) (#49)
    by loveed on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:19:30 PM EST
    for one term.
     He campaigned all through his 2yrs in the Senate.He's been campaigning all of his presidency.
      It's been a disaster.Wasted a lot of money. Mister Kool,wimped out. Teleprompters speeches has become a running joke. Were heading into a double-dip recession. He's waiting a month to give a much needed job plan.What happened to "the urgency of now".
     After 3yrs he still don't know what he doing. But he still want to be president.
     It's all about Obama. He loves being called Mr President.
     The country is rumbling. From the tea party,to the dems. The economic failure is growing. The wars are going badly. The world is wondering,why do we keep picking these lightweights.
     To save his country and his party, he should not run. He's in worse shape than LBJ.
     Fight for a good jobs bill. Listen to some dems. for a change. And tell the country " I will not run".
     The dems. still have a shot without Obama. I don't think it will be Hillary. With Obama gone. Other voices can come forward.
     If he runs they will lose the senate. The repub. may even end up with a veto proof majority.
     If things get worse,and they will. Can you imagine Perry with a veto proof senate?
          Supreme Court. nuff said

    Anne (none / 0) (#61)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 11:16:26 AM EST
    Whenever I asked what Obama should offer up that would pass I get a crashing chorus of complete silence.

    When the metric is "what will pass," (5.00 / 4) (#64)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:13:40 PM EST
    you reveal that you are as limited in courage, imagination, will and vision as Obama is, at the expense of a future many Democrats believed was possible if only we could put a Democrat in the WH.

    Some of the best, most principled, boldest and most generationally life-changing things this country has accomplished have resulted from not limiting ourselves to only what was possible.

    I find it unutterably sad how low the bar has been allowed to fall, and how hard so many people are working to convince themselves that that's okay.

    It's not.


    C'mon Anne (none / 0) (#69)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 06:02:07 PM EST
    Not even Krugman believes that the House can be worked around.

    "Well, let's see what the jobs plan looks like -- and more important, since the GOP will block everything, how (and if) he makes a political issue of that obstruction."

    No one credible seems to believe that Obama can magically make the House suddenly pass a bill that will work.

    It's not about vision, its about numbers.  But Obama does have some things outside of congress he can do and i think folks will be surprised when he rolls them out.  The Federal Reserve has already signaled some positive things they are doing that are meaningful.


    And in your mind (5.00 / 0) (#84)
    by sj on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 11:33:31 AM EST
    some one credible is Yglesias or Chait or E Klein.  Who have no vision and are happy juggling numbers.

    It suits your own mentality and predilections.


    That's because your definition ... (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by Yman on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 01:07:14 PM EST
    ... of "what will pass"/"what is possible" is so impossibly tiny there's not much point in answering.

    You know this is downright stupid (5.00 / 4) (#44)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 10:00:28 PM EST
    All we have heard for months on end is how Obama has to tailor his agenda to please the independent voters. In order to do this, Obama has decided that he needs to talk like a Republican and promote and pass their agenda. Each and every month Obama's approval drops with the independent voters. A person would think that sooner or later Obama and his advisors might realize that what he is doing is not working. His "grand plan" sucks about as much as his "grand bargain." Not only is he continuing to lose independent voters, he is lowering his support with the very people who were responsible for his victory in 2008.

    Chait writes that Obama must not pursue policies that do not poll well. Maybe Obama needs to buy a clue. People want jobs more than they want to cut the deficit yet Obama spends most of his time lecturing about the deficit. Cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid does not poll well. In fact, it polls extremely poorly yet Obama is tenaciously pursuing this agenda. Maybe it is time for Obama and his administration to acknowledge the weaknesses in their position.

    Even a blind man could see that what he is doing is not working.    


    This characterization is completely wrong (1.33 / 3) (#70)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 06:03:16 PM EST
    You make a lot of false statements and then argue against them strawman style.

    "Obama has decided that he needs to talk like a Republican and promote and pass their agenda. "

    That's just that manure right there.


    There is plenty of manure (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 07:03:53 PM EST
    alright but my statement is not the source of it.

    Perhaps this is just the logical endpoint of two years spent arguing over what Barack Obama is -- or isn't. Muslim. Socialist. Marxist. Anti-colonialist. Racial healer. We've obsessed over every answer except the right one: President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican of the early 1990s. And the Republican Party he's facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him. link

    With the important caveat that the accounting on both the spending and tax sides can get tricky, this seems like an awfully good deal for Republicans. Much to the chagrin of many Democrats, the mix of spending cuts and tax increases that Mr. Obama is offering is quite close to, or perhaps even a little to the right of, what the average Republican voter wants, let alone the average American. link

    Obama the Moderate Conservative

    No time to do any original posting tonight. But for those who missed the first time I linked to it, here's Bruce Bartlett -- an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan -- explaining why Obama is indeed a moderate conservative in practical terms. link

    The unhappy conclusion is that we have in Obama a President who is what we used to call a moderate Republican before the species became extinct. Moreover, someone who is very much a man of his times - those times being the 1980s and 1990s. That means suspicions of government programs (last week Obama declared that New Deal thinking wasn't applicable to day's problems), a strong belief that we should always give private interests the benefit of the doubt, an assumption that the rich deserve their riches, and an insensitivity to the plight of salaried Americans (Obama's push for a Bipartisan Commission to recommend budget cutting measures to be voted 'up or down' by Congress clearly had Social Security in its sights). Abroad, Obama is ready to deploy military might in dubious causes defined by the country's hawkish defense establishment. link

    Jobs vs deficit (5.00 / 2) (#79)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:26:08 PM EST
    Obama can't just focus on jobs. He has to make sure that the deficit and his "Grand Bargain" remains in the spotlight.

    The President has requested a joint session of Congress on September 7 at 8pm (amusingly conflicting with the next GOP Presidential debate at the Reagan Library), "to lay out his plan to create jobs, grow the economy, and reduce the deficit" according to White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer. That's one thing that has been lost among this jobs speech - it's also a deficit speech. This is the speech where Obama will deliver a specific plan to the Catfood Commission II, one bigger than the $1.5 trillion deficit reduction target that they have, on top of the job creation ideas. ....link

    Losing Support

    What might be most noteworthy in this week's poll is how bad Obama's numbers are with a few key and usually dependable Democratic constituencies. He's under water in union households at 44/47. He's also under water with voters under 30 at 45/48. The Northeast tends to a pretty dependable region for Democrats, but Obama's under water there at 47/49. Obama's usually been able to hold his ground with female voters but he's under water with them too at 45/49. And even with African Americans his approval rating's down to 76%, about as low as we've ever found it.

    Hecka of job Obama. Keep on keeping on while ABG cheers you doing the limbo.  


    Here is another prime example (none / 0) (#76)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 07:27:17 PM EST
    highlighted by digby, Greg Sargent and BTD

    Digby and Greg Sargent lament that Americans have come to believe the Obama Administration's parroting of Republican talking points on the relationship between economic growth and cutting government spending. Digby writes:

    It's fairly clear that the administration long ago bought into the deficit trope and threw in its lot with the confidence fairy to create growth.

    A little more for you (none / 0) (#77)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 07:49:50 PM EST
    One striking example of this rightward shift came in last weekend's presidential address, in which Mr. Obama had this to say about the economics of the budget: "Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can't afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs."

    That's three of the right's favorite economic fallacies in just two sentences. No, the government shouldn't budget the way families do; on the contrary, trying to balance the budget in times of economic distress is a recipe for deepening the slump. Spending cuts right now wouldn't "put the economy on sounder footing." They would reduce growth and raise unemployment. And last but not least, businesses aren't holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they're holding back because they don't have enough customers -- a problem that would be made worse, not better, by short-term spending cuts. link

    Not hard to find examples even with my limited search capabilities.


    Re: Yglesias (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by lilburro on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 09:46:46 AM EST
    "All that matters is it polls well"

    That was the whole purpose of the budget deficit crap from this summer, no?  That it "polled well"?  And yet his approval numbers are the lowest they've ever been.  Woo hoo!  

    "If you're going to propose things that can pass Congress and they create jobs, then I don't think it matters whether or not they're popular. The job creation will be rewarded."

    Duhhhhhhhhh.  That's what critics of Obama's small stimulus and lack of focus on jobs these past two years have been saying all along.  Yglesias was probably too busy trying to rationalize Obama's defensive approach to proposing such legislation to notice this.

    Why the hell should Krugman, Maddow, etc. sell out and become Democratic party operatives, supporting the "nonsense bromides" Ygelsias thinks Obama will propose?  Why should they be on the record as supporting crap they know won't work (I am sure they will support the infrastructure bank and other things Obama proposes).

    Let The New Republic fawn all over payroll tax cuts.  That's what they like to do.  IMO, they're the hacks for jumping on board the Obama Admin's "Maybe things will just get better!!!" strategy bandwagon.  That was irresponsible of both of them policy-wise and politically.


    Chait in the original quote (none / 0) (#34)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 05:13:00 PM EST
    with Yglesias concurring.  My bad.

    They make up the (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 06:39:07 PM EST
    "liberal" position.

    It's all straw.

    They have a lot of splainin to do for all the stupid they spouted previously.


    Chait and Yglesias (none / 0) (#62)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 11:18:11 AM EST
    are correct far more than they are wrong.

    And let's be clear: whether they are wrong or right about a number of the issues you bash them over is very subjective.

    Good Chait piece on the CBO and stimulus I'll touch on in the next open comments thread.


    Tell you what: you go read the (5.00 / 5) (#63)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:05:18 PM EST
    Matt Stoller piece he's guest-posted at Naked Capitalism...

    Stoller looks at what we can learn from Eric Schneiderman, the NY Attorney General, who is aggressively taking on the big banks, even though that's not politically popular, as evidenced by the push-back he's getting from powerful quarters - including the administration, which had hoped to be able to make an announcement about a settlement on the foreclosure mess.

    You really should read it all, but here are a few paragraphs to ponder:

    In all the absurdly stupid punditry, the simple application of free will to our elected officials goes missing. Yeah, Obama got money from Wall Street. But Obama is choosing to pursue a policy of foreclosures and bank bailouts not because of any grand corporate scheme. He just wants to. He thinks it's the right thing to do, and he's doing it. If you don't think it's the right thing to do, then you shouldn't be disappointed in him any more than you might have been disappointed in Bush. Obama is not trying to do the opposite of what he's doing, he's not repeatedly suckered by Republicans, and he isn't naive or stupid. Obama is simply doing what he thinks is right. So is Eric Schneiderman. So is Tom Miller. So are any number of elected officials out there.

    In positions of power, the best expression I heard is that "up there the air is thin". That is, you have enormous latitude, if you want to use it. Power can be wielded creatively and effectively on behalf of whatever it is the wielder wants. Now of course there are constraints, plenty of them. Smart politicians spend their time working to maximize the constraints they want to impose and weakening the ones they want to overcome. But the basic Reaganite liberal argument defending supplication towards Obama these days is that Obama is "disappointing". In this line of thought, powerful corporate interests and Republicans are preventing him from enacting what his real agenda would be were he unfettered by this mean machine. Eric Schneiderman, who is in a far less powerful position as New York Attorney General, shows that this is utter hogwash. Obama is who he is, and anyone who thinks otherwise is selling something.


    When you look closely at most significant areas of government, it becomes clear that the President and his administration are enormously powerful actors who get a lot done. Handing over our national wealth to the banks and to China is not nothing. These people are reorganizing the economy and the political system so that there are no constraints on the oligarchical interests that fund and pay them. That is their goal, it has been their goal from day one (or even before that), and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong or deluding him or herself. Obama spoke at the founding of Robert Rubin's Hamilton Institute, and his first, and most important by far policy initiative, was his whipping for TARP, a policy that was signed by Bush but could not have passed without Obama getting his party in line. That was his goal, and he's still pursuing it. The numerous "what happened to Obama" wailing editorials overlook the consistency of his policy agenda, which stretches back years at this point.


    Eric Schneiderman's willingness to go after the banks and stand up to the corruption of the Bush and Obama administrations should be a reminder to all of us of this. We have free will. He is doing the right thing for no other reason than because he wants to, because he believes in it. He is going to face serious consequences for this, very nasty stuff. Eliot Spitzer was taken down and his name dragged through mud because of who he took on. Paying ugly costs for standing up is routine, unfortunately, in modern America. And the least powerful among us face far worse consequences than politicians who are embarrassed. But integrity exists, and Schneiderman is showing that free will can be exercised in its service. This fact is true of many people, not just Schneiderman; Bill McKibbin, Jane Hamsher, Dan Choi and others just got arrested in front of the White House to register dissent. So next time someone tells you that you have no choice but to support one of the two branches of the banking party, just remember, you also have free will. And the only person who can take that away from you, is you.

    Oh, and if you have any time, and a strong stomach, take a look at how Bank of America is alleged to have responded the first time they settled, and consider that Obama - and other high-level Democrats - are in favor of "settling" with these criminals yet again.

    And if you don't know what any of this has to do with who Obama is, where his interests lie, what he is willing to fight for, how he chooses to use his bully pulpit, I'm not sure there is any hope for you.


    opposite point.  If so, I will give you some and then we can discuss their opposing points.  Otherwise there is no discussion.  It's just you saying your data is better than mine.

    Matt Stoller is not an economist, and (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 10:46:40 AM EST
    his post did not address economic issues; you would know that if you had followed the link to see even the title of the post: Matt Stoller: Power Politics - What Eric Schneiderman Reveals About Obama. - but you obviously didn't; that it was posted at Naked Capitalism doesn't mean it was all about economic theory and opinion.

    You didn't read the excerpted portions of the Stoller post, either; that would have provided you with yet another blinking neon sign that it wasn't about economics.

    Yet another reason why it is almost impossible to take anything you say seriously.

    But, okay - perhaps you could provide me with links to economists who make opposite points to what Stoller expressed in his post; I will check back to see if you've been able to find any who have.

    Good luck.


    No (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:32:49 PM EST
    they are almost always wrong on politics.

    But they almost always (none / 0) (#83)
    by sj on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 11:31:48 AM EST
    justify O's actions in a given situation.  Which is why ABG thinks they are correct far more than they are wrong.

    It's because he's right there with them and if they are wrong so is ABG.



    Amen... (none / 0) (#35)
    by MiamiGuy on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 06:33:41 PM EST
    to that!

    You think that's bad, you should (none / 0) (#54)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 02:10:18 AM EST
    listen to Fox Business for a while.  It's all "job creators," not small business or, God forbid, wealthy people, with big doses of the ever popular "uncertainty" and a drumbeat of "overregulation" and "over taxation."  Gah.

    Jobs plan may include rebuilding schools (none / 0) (#78)
    by Politalkix on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:17:48 PM EST

    He said in Decorah, Iowa. "Why don't we put them to work right now rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools all across America?"

    Maybe he should also propose a plan that will allow interested small businesses to refurbish their facilities by cost sharing with the government. Puts a lot of unemployed construction workers in jobs and allows small businesses to fix and modernize their facilities at lower cost.