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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Note to the President: Winning Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing

The good news is that President Obama is fixing for a fight on jobs.

Washington Post:

ObamaPresident Obama has decided to press Congress for a new round of stimulus spending and tax cuts as he seeks to address the great domestic policy quandary of his tenure: how to spur job growth in an age of austerity.

Obama will lay out a series of ideas in a major address right after Labor Day, when he and a largely antagonistic Congress will return from vacation, the White House said Wednesday.

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.


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The bad news is that President Obama is fixing for a fight on jobs. White House chief of staff William Daley once said of the president, "He's not someone to walk away from a tough fight." Which is actually pretty true. The problem is that he seems more interested in ending those tough fights than in winning them.

If "trying is the first step toward failing" is Homer Simpson's motto, "fighting is the first step toward caving" is Barack Obama's.

And he's already putting his caving foot forward, as he so often does. He proposes tax cuts and asking the super-committee to cut more than $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. You sweeten the deal after the prospect objects, not before. It's the public option all over again -- the president gives himself nowhere to retreat to but Republican territory. Unemployment and wage stagnation aren't contributing factors to a bad economy, they're the primary problems. They aren't symptoms, they're the disease. Solve those and everything else comes together -- including increased tax revenues that drive down the deficit. Focusing on cutting spending means "living within our means," yes. But these aren't the means any sane person wants to live with and cutting spending in reaction to our current economic situation means accepting it as the status quo. The idea that cutting spending will magically create jobs is the purest BS anyone ever sold. It doesn't even make sense. Yet Barack Obama plays along with the GOP, helping them sell this crap -- a sales job which will, by the way, make it harder to do sane things in the future. All because it allows him to propose big things and settle for crumbs in the form of nearly useless half-measures. We need solutions -- solutions Republicans don't have and actually hate -- but what we get are bumperstickers and bandaids and window dressing.

This is the reason that public approval of Obama's handling of the economy is at a historic low of 26%. Yes, Republicans have blocked him at every turn, demanding things that aren't helpful in the best cases and are actually damaging in the worst, but Obama's been broadcasting his plays beforehand by countering arguments that have yet to be made. He deserves that 26%. Not because his ideas are bad, but because he himself makes it impossible to have those ideas carried out.

-Wisco


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