Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holy Pointless Gimmick, Batman

Otto Preminger as Mr. Freeze
There he goes again.  In an effort to "appeal to Republican leaders leaders" in order to find what the New York Times calls a "a common approach to restoring the nation’s economic and fiscal health," President Obama announced he will freeze the pay of civilian federal workers for two years.  A symbolic gesture that will have minimal impact on the deficit led Daily Kos to dub Obama "President Gimmick."  Even assuming -- without conceding -- the deficit must be addressed immediately by cutting spending (but see Growth is Good, Let 'Em Eat Catfood), this plan will do little but punish mostly middle class federal workers.  And what concession did Obama get in return from Republicans?  Nothing, of course.  As Lawrence Michel of the Economic Policy Institute stated:
This is another example of the administration's tendency to bargain with itself rather than Republicans, and in the process reinforces conservative myths, in this case the myth that federal workers are overpaid. Such a policy also ignores the fact that deficit reduction and loss of pay at a time when the unemployment rate remains above 9% will only weaken a too-weak recovery.
All President Obama has succeeded in doing is again buying into the misguided Republican notion that rather than temporarily increase spending in order to stimulate the economy, the government must tighten its belt, i.e., gut government programs.  It sure would have been refreshing on the eve of his meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders for Obama to come out fighting.  As the Times suggested in an editorial Sunday, Obama "should pound the table for a clean, yearlong extension of unemployment benefits, and should excoriate phony deficit hawks — in both parties — who say that jobless benefits are too costly, even as they pass vastly more expensive tax cuts for the rich."  Instead, we get Mr. Freeze.


Stephen said...

Don't be coy. Is someone itching to mount a primary challenge? Love '12?

Memo to marketing: I need 10 slogans by the end of business today. I'll kick it off.

1.) Keep Love (and Hope) Alive

p.s. I don't do fund-raising, so you better bulk up on charisma.

Lovechilde said...

No, thanks. As Sarah Palin would say, I just want Obama to "man up."

Stephen said...

The exhortations for Obama to "man up" assume that he's being either willfully tone deaf or that he's caved on his principles. It's more than possible that both assumptions are wrong and that he was rorschached by the left as a true progressive where, in fact, there's more Reagan in him than anyone imagined. Many have argued that his governance is mostly in accord with his campaign pledges (the closing of Guantanamo being an obvious broken promise). None of this reflect fresh analysis on the president. Rather, it's a gradual awakening.

What does this portend for 2012? Well, if Obama is not going to "man up," and if the left continues to feel increasingly disaffected, then a third party challenge, from either the left or the right or a Bloomberg-Scarborough-esque hybrid, looms larger as a threat to his re-election.

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