« Only Further Stimulus Can Tackle America’s Jobless, Wage-Less Recovery | Main | A Day Away (Update: And Some Comments on the Employment Report) »

Friday, July 08, 2011

Paul Krugman: What Obama Wants

Should Democrats trust Obama?:

What Obama Wants, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: On Thursday, President Obama met with Republicans to discuss a debt deal. We don’t know exactly what was proposed, but news reports ... suggested that Mr. Obama is offering huge spending cuts, possibly including cuts to Social Security and an end to Medicare’s status as a program available in full to all Americans, regardless of income.
Obviously, the details matter a lot, but progressives, and Democrats in general, are understandably very worried. Should they be? In a word, yes.
Now, this might just be theater: Mr. Obama may be pulling an anti-Corleone, making Republicans an offer they can’t accept. The ... Obama plan also involves significant new revenues, a notion that remains anathema to the Republican base. So the goal may be ... making Republicans look like intransigent extremists — which they are.
But let’s be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the G.O.P.’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth. ...
Some of what we’re hearing is presumably coming from the political team, whose members seem to believe that a move toward Republican positions, reminiscent of former President Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” in the 1990s, is the key to Mr. Obama’s re-election. And Mr. Clinton did, indeed, rebound from a big defeat in the 1994 midterms to win big two years later. But some of us think that the rebound had less to do with his rhetorical move to the center than with the five million jobs the economy added over those two years — an achievement not likely to be repeated this time, especially not in the face of harsh spending cuts.
Anyway, I don’t believe that it’s all political calculation. Watching Mr. Obama and listening to his recent statements, it’s hard not to get the impression that he is now turning for advice to people who really believe that the deficit, not unemployment, is the top issue facing America..., and who also believe that the great bulk of deficit reduction should come from spending cuts. It’s worth noting that even Republicans weren’t suggesting cuts to Social Security; this is something Mr. Obama and those he listens to apparently want for its own sake.
Which raises the big question: If a debt deal does emerge, and it overwhelmingly reflects conservative priorities and ideology, should Democrats in Congress vote for it?
Mr. Obama’s people will no doubt argue that their fellow party members should trust him, that whatever deal emerges was the best he could get. But it’s hard to see why a president who has gone out of his way to echo Republican rhetoric and endorse false conservative views deserves that kind of trust.

I wrote this earlier while sitting in an airport waiting to board, so it was a bit rushed, but here's my take: The Social Security Deal: Is It Just Politics?

    Posted by on Friday, July 8, 2011 at 12:42 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (136)


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

    -->