Friday, July 6, 2012

Catch of the Day

I think I'll go with Ezra Klein for this one, but it could have just as easily gone to Kevin Drum, or Benjy Sarlin, any number of bashing-their-heads-against-a-tree bloggers after Tom Friedman columns, or, well, how about Matt Yglesias:
Obama should launch a drone strike on the next pundit who says he needs to offer a combined stimulus / debt reduction plan.
Okay, I should get to the point here: Klein gets it for beating up on Jonathan Rauch, who has a neat-o suggestion for Obama: if only he would propose...oh, you know. Klein:
Here’s the thing: The White House already released this plan. It was called “Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future: The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction.” They sent it to the Special Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as ‘the Supercommittee’ — back in September 2011. It included a large short-term stimulus in the form of the American Jobs Act, a longer-term fiscal retrenchment component based loosely on Simpson-Bowles, and, because the ‘Supercommittee’ was empowered to raise the debt ceiling when it greenlighted a plan, an end to further debt-ceiling shenanigans. You can read the whole thing here (pdf). The White House continued to push this proposal in its 2013 budget, which included most of the stimulus and deficit-reduction proposals included in this plan.
Granted, the pundit conceit that "Barack Obama should always listen to my advice, but I shouldn't bother to pay any attention to what he's been doing" isn't quite as bad as the Republican talking point that "Obama is being irresponsible for not backing Simpson-Bowles, which by the way we strongly oppose." Or, I don't know, maybe it's worse.

Anyway, I agree with Drum that putting more emphasis on the stimulus now/austerity later plan wouldn't do the president much good; as he puts it, "Whatever it is that voters are looking for, this isn't it." What would be popular? I'd say the best bet is probably promises to put people back to work by balancing the budget by spending more on all target groups of swing voters and by cutting taxes for all target groups of swing voters while slashing spending on foreign aid and raising taxes on gazillionnaires. And I'd also say that as long as you avoid advocating truly unpopular stuff, it probably doesn't make much of a difference anyway. The incumbent president is going to be re-elected or not based on results, not new promises.

But yeah, it's really annoying. And so: great catch!


  1. "Obama is being irresponsible for not backing Simpson-Bowles, which by the way we strongly oppose."


  2. I would love to see a pundit like Friedman or Rauch conduct a little experiment to see how far they can take this sort of thing before their editors or the commetariart at large actually starts to push back. I mean if someone wrote a column saying "Obama should have appointed more women to the US Supreme Court" I bet a lot of the smart kids would nod their heads sagely in agreement. I wonder if it'd be kinda like the Stanford Prison Experiment and get totally out of hand before anyone realized.

    1. Personally, I'm pissed that Obama chose to appoint Justices to replace two of the Court's liberals. Think how much better things would be if he had replaced Scalia and Thomas instead. Betrayal! And I'll never forgive Pelosi for resigning as Speaker. She was much, much better than that clown who replaced her.


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