Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hope Replaced

President Obama has had quite a week, starting with an announcement that he will freeze the pay of all civilian federal workers -- in the name of deficit reduction, of course -- followed by craven surrender on gigantic tax cuts that swamps the pay-freeze savings by three orders of magnitude. Paul Krugman marvels at the audacity of flailing, feckless incoherence:

The truth is that America’s long-run deficit problem has nothing at all to do with overpaid federal workers ... freezing federal pay is cynical deficit-reduction theater. It’s a (literally) cheap trick that only sounds impressive to people who don’t know anything about budget realities. The actual savings, about $5 billion over two years, are chump change given the scale of the deficit.

Meanwhile, there’s a real deficit issue on the table: whether tax cuts for the wealthy will, as Republicans demand, be extended ... Mr. Obama's pay ploy might, just might, have been justified if he had used the announcement of a freeze as an occasion to take a strong stand against Republican demands — to declare that at a time when deficits are an important issue, tax breaks for the wealthiest aren't acceptable.

But he didn't.
No, he cut a deal cutting another $4 trillion in taxes.


Domestically Challenged said...

Normally, I am all over the "STOP selling out to the GOP fuckwads" bandwagon. But in this situation.... I think he did the right thing. *pulls up flame shield*

Dems should have listened to Obama and put this to a vote BEFORE the election where they knew they would loose the majority. If they had, the middle class would be safe and the upper crust would have reasonable and fair tax increases. But they didn't. At this point, if Obama didn't cut the deal, he would be going back on his campaign promise of not raising taxes for the middle class. They (this morning's white house news conference) say the average middle class family would face a $3000 a year tax increase starting in 2011. That's HUGE. I don't have an extra 3K sitting around! If he had stood and fought, he would have gotten nowhere, EVERYBODY would have huge tax increases and under today's economy it would have been unreasonable... tragic even, for the lower and middle classes.

Yes, he fucked us over. It makes me sick that he cut yet another deal. But this time, I blame the outgoing Dem Congress and not Obama.

What else could he have done? (really, what else?)

Paul Sunstone said...

President Obama is a remarkable politician and a staunch Republican.

Dale said...

DC, I really don't care that much about the big bad tax cuts because I don't care much about debt and deficits. Yes, the Democrats -- all of them -- must be faulted for seeing this trap from miles away and letting themselves fall into it. If they were just going to extend the Bush tax cuts, they should just have done it and declared victory while doing so. They should not have delayed this fight until they were completely cornered. But that's what they did, with Obama leading the way.

What troubles me more here is the two-step where you announce on Monday that you're freezing the pay of every civilian worker in the government in the name of debt reduction, and then follow on Wednesday by announcing a deal to add trillions to the debt. He's not just endorsing but participating in GOP fakery on this.

Either debt/deficits matter a lot or they don't. If they matter a lot, you can't then add $4 trillion to them. If they don't matter, then freezing $5 billion in pay is just petty and nasty.

Saying both in the same week makes you look like a liar.