Sunday, August 21, 2011




Leadership, Of A Sort

President Obama isn’t kidding around; he means business. Though not yet announcing details

The president is thinking about proposing tax cuts for companies that hire workers, new spending for roads and construction, and other measures that would target the long-term unemployed, according to administration officials and other people familiar with the matter. Some ideas, such as providing mortgage relief for struggling homeowners, could come through executive action.

Obama also plans to announce a major push for new deficit reduction, urging the special congressional committee formed in the debt-ceiling deal this month to identify even more savings than the $1.5 trillion it has been tasked with finding.

At a town hall meeting on Wednesday in Illinois, the President stated

When folks tell you that we’ve got a choice between jobs now or dealing with our debt crisis, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both. And the way to do it is to make some -- reform the tax code, close loopholes, make some modest modifications in programs like Medicare and Social Security so they’re there for the next generation, stabilize those systems. And you could actually save so much money that you could actually pay for some of the things like additional infrastructure right now.

We can close the deficit and put people to work, but what’s required is that folks work together. That’s the big challenge. That’s the big challenge. (Applause.)

After the President's brief rhetorical "pivot" to job creation, which he had termed "the most imediate concern of most Americans," Obama has returned to the deficit fairy. The GOP's favorite euphemisms- "reform" and "stabilize"- for cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have been resurrected at the White House, with addition of "modest modifications."

As the President leads, so many Senate Democrats follow. Harry Reid's appointees to the deficit reduction commission (Patty Murray, Max Baucus, and John Kerry) then issued a statement which included

We know that our goal is to reduce spending. But we also know that America faces not just a budget deficit but also a jobs deficit. Nobody on this committee would be happy if we reduced the budget deficit but even more Americans end up losing their jobs.

So we are ready to get to work with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to report out a balanced plan, with the shared sacrifices this moment requires. One that moves past the partisan rancor, puts our nation back on strong fiscal footing, and allows us to continue shining bright in the world in this generation and for generations to come.

It would be helpful if at least the Democrats- who claim to favor a "balanced plan"- realized that the goal of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is deficit reduction, not “to reduce spending.” Not only is spending reduction not the goal, it is an odd strategy for a party aiming, at least rhetorically, to create jobs. But then this group also believes “our colleagues on both sides of the aisle” share its passion for “a balanced plan.” That “balanced plan,” to the other side of “the aisle,” means cutting the heart out of the social safety net- and maybe, in return, a revenue-neutral move to lower the corporate tax rate while reducing loopholes (which lobbyists will put back into the tax code in a few years, thank you very much). Digby speculates that Obama’s limited, GOP-friendly jobs plan will be “the liberal bait” and

I guess the "compromise" the SuperCommittee Dems will be agreeing to is to sell-off the safety net (because the pain won't hit for a while) in exchange for some mealy mouthed tax cut stimulus and maybe a little infrastructure to goose the economy. Oh, and hopefully some minor help for the long term unemployed --- until the election anyway.




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