The thinking at the White House

Or what passes for it. Robert Reich:

Even though the President’s two former top economic advisors (Larry Summers and Christy Roemer) have called for a major fiscal boost to the economy, the President has remained mum. Why?

I’m told White House political operatives are against a bold jobs plan. They believe the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day. They also worry the public wouldn’t understand how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction. And they fear Republicans would use any such initiative to further bash Obama as a big spender.

So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama – to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public’s attention from the President’s failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia.

When I first heard this I didn’t want to believe it. But then I listened to the President’s statement yesterday in the midst of yesterday’s 634-point drop in the Dow.

At a time when the nation’s eyes were on him, seeking an answer to what was happening, he chose not to talk about the need for a bold jobs plan but to talk instead about the budget deficit – as if it were responsible for the terrible economy, including Wall Street’s plunge. He spoke of Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the nation’s debt as proof that Washington’s political paralysis over deficit reduction “could do enormous damage to our economy and the world’s,” and said the nation could reduce its deficit and jump-start the economy if there was “political will in Washington.”

The President then called upon the nation’s political leadership to stop “drawing lines in the sand.” The lines were obviously Republicans’ insistence on cutting entitlements and enacting a balanced-budget amendment while refusing to raise taxes on the rich, and the Democrats’ insistence on tax increases on the rich while refusing to cut entitlements.

These partisan “lines in the sand” are irrelevant to the current crisis. They’re not even relevant to the budget standoff now that Congress and the President have agreed to a process that postpones the next round of debt-ceiling chicken until after the election.

2 thoughts on “The thinking at the White House

  1. In other words, it is not about what is good for the country, but about what will get him re-elected. I guess they think that this is what is really important because if Obama is not re-elected they will all be out of jobs. This is the only part of the unemployment picture that is important to them.

    Obama has said straight out, out loud, that you should never set a goal that you might fail to achieve because you will be disappointed if you don’t make it. Really, this is the way the man thinks.

    How about, deciding what is right and fighting for it, so that even if you lose, you have tried to do the right thing for the American people?

  2. And, it’s possible, Reich is being, well, bamboozled. It’s an Obama thing. And it’s being used to further the idea that Obama is up against insurmountable obstacles and no human being could have implemented the necessary strong jobs programs.

    I think Obama never ever wanted a powerful jobs program. I think that any program which in any way resembles what FDR did –or thought about doing– is like kryptonite to our St. Ronnie worshipping president. Hence, the easy compliance with R demands for tax cuts, which were supposed to lead to jobs…but seldom do without, ya know, demand.

    But, for political purposes, he needs to have a story out there that he really wanted to have a strong jobs program but it’s…just impossible with these modern day Republicans. If it weren’t for them, he sure would have done more.

    Yeah. that’s the ticket.

    Obama and his crew are quite good at creating myths, story lines, strong narratives. Too bad they’re not as good at seeing reality and what needs to be done.

    But, again, Obama is doing what his big backers want him to do.

    Is he doing it well enough? We’ll see if they fund his reelection to the amount needed to win with high unemployment and a slowing real economy….

    I could, of course, be wrong. But, looking at Obama’s actions along with his less than encouragin words, not his pretty campaign words, it appears to me Obama is doing just what he wants to do. And he’s accomplishing getting SocSec and Medicare/Medicaid in the cross hairs with his Committee of the Twelve Caesars.

    We will be extremely lucky to come out of the Obama years with any social safety nets programs intact.

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