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.No, he cut a deal cutting another $4 trillion in taxes.
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.