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Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2010

Phase Two of the Obama presidency

September 9, 2010

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— Nov. 2 is likely to be marked as the official start of Phase Two of the Obama presidency, but in some respects, the turn to the right that will mark his tenure became visible in this first week in September.

The signs were there in the polls signaling the likelihood of large Republican gains in the midterm election, in the word that the White House may have to find a new chief of staff, and in the policy announcements about Obama’s new economic fixes.

All the major media completed their first rounds of post-Labor Day reporting and polling this week and pronounced, with one voice, that voters are ready to strip the Democrats of one, if not both, of their congressional majorities. The failure of the economy to generate any momentum for significant growth during the summer months has deepened national pessimism. And little is likely to jolt it into a climb before November.

Voters have pocketed the formal ending of combat in Iraq without rewarding the commander in chief. Now, congressional Democrats are scattering in search of individual salvation, rather than forming a solid phalanx to defend their leader.

That Chicago Mayor Richard Daley chose this particular moment to announce his plans to retire next year is pure coincidence, but it signaled to everyone that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, may leave after the election to seek the hometown job he always has wanted.

Emanuel is not the hard-liner partisan he was reckoned to be by those who remember him best by the tactics he used as the architect of the drive that broke the GOP grip on the House halfway through George W. Bush’s second term. He has often been a voice for moderation within the administration and he was personally responsible for recruiting a Republican colleague, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, for the Cabinet.

Nonetheless, with Emanuel likely to lead the procession of post-election exits from the White House, Obama will have the freedom he needs to recast the administration for the last half of the term. As he prepares to deal with a more Republican Congress and begin his own race for re-election, the changeover will become more and more important.

You can begin to see the outlines of the president’s new approach in the pair of speeches he gave this week in Milwaukee and Cleveland. His settings were traditional — the urban centers that anchor Democratic hopes in two of the classic Midwest battlegrounds.

But the economic message had changed from Phase One of the Obama presidency, when the instinct was to turn to government for the answer to whatever ailed the economy. In Phase One, it was stimulate demand by expanding government spending, directly by the feds and indirectly through subsidies to states and local communities. Then rescue the auto industry by making it a ward of government.

Obama’s economists, and those at the neutral Congressional Budget Office, can show evidence that Phase One succeeded at least in saving a significant number of jobs. But that game has been ended by public reaction to mushrooming deficits, and Obama is not going to fight the voters.

What he said this week is that he is now prepared to adopt business’ own favorite remedy, and subsidize private firms in hopes they will invest and hire more rapidly.

The centerpiece is a classic bit of pro-business tax manipulation, allowing immediate expensing of equipment purchases and making permanent the research and development tax credit.

This is the kind of tax reform Republicans can love, and it’s now been placed on offer by a Democratic president, even before the election results are weighed.

All this suggests that Phase Two may not be as painful a transition for Obama himself as it is for liberals in his party. And Rahm Emanuel won’t have to explain it to Nancy Pelosi.

— David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Turbin_Cowboy 4 years, 3 months ago

The court jesters, Jon Stewart and David Letterman are now turning on their King. The jokesters must need material because everything else in the country is so dour.

"In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan"

The more things 'Hope and Change' The more they stay the same Everyone's your brother till you turn the other way The more things 'Hope and Change' The more they stay the same All we need's a miracle to take us all away from the pain.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

Of course since fiscal budgets are set in October of the previous year the budget for October 2008-September 2009 was set by George W. Bush.

According to the actual CBO report, "CBO currently estimates that the deficit for 2010 will be about $70 billion below last year’s total but will still exceed $1.3 trillion. Relative to the size of the economy, this year’s deficit is expected to be the second-largest shortfall in the past 65 years: At 9.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), that deficit will be exceeded only by last year’s deficit of 9.9 percent of GDP"

So the budget year for 2009 was worse both in actual deficit and percentage of GDP thus Bush's last budget year is the worst on record and Obama's first full budget year saw an improvement. Of course it works better for conservatives to skew the facts and blame Obama for a budget that was set a month before he was elected to office.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

And if the 2000 recession actually didn't start until Feb or March of 2001 as the NBER (originally) claimed, then it started in a year with a budget prepared by Clinton, didn't it?

BrianR 4 years, 3 months ago

"In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan"

According the the CBO, only slightly up from what the publicly held debt was under GW Bush. Nothing to see here.

independant1 4 years, 3 months ago

The democrat controlled House produced the spending bill(s). All spending bills emanate from the House of Representatives. Approved and reconciled in the Senate then passed on to the President for his signature.

Bush could've used the power of veto but didn't.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Well, why on earth not?

He was supposed to be a conservative, wasn't he?

independant1 4 years, 3 months ago

Obviously in name only.

Our elected officials, despite party affiliation, need to spend less and fill the country's needs more efficiently. We're spending a whole lot of bucks and not getting much bang from the extraordinary spending.

It took both parties to get us down this path and by golly they should be held acountable to get us back on a more sane fiscal path.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

While it is true that spending bills originate in the House the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires that the President submit a fiscal budget for the entire government. Since the budget is submitted by the President and he has veto power over the budget that is passed it really begins and ends with him.

grammaddy 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm with you! Why turn Congress back over to the same idiots who got us in this mess in the first place?!

independant1 4 years, 3 months ago

The democrat controlled House produced the spending bill(s). All spending bills emanate from the House of Representatives. Approved and reconciled in the Senate then passed on to the President for his signature.

Bush could've used the power of veto but didn't.

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

If you hate government and want to force a fiscal crisis, then it makes perfect sense.

First, you slash the revenue being brought in to run government, then you howl about ineffective government, and finally you call for slashing of government services to address the crisis of your own making.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Except - and one more time - within three years after the TRRA took effect, federal revenues had increased by almost three-quarters of a trillion dollars. Maybe you have a different definition of the word "slash".

Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

And three more years on revenues collapsed. Great work TRRA - you father all positive subsequent events but are unacquainted with anything negative!

Virtually every economist who worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that TRRA cost the Treasury several trillion dollars. Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, even devoted part of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues. Maybe they'll make a Dummies version for you, so you can finally grasp this elementary point.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey, jimmie's is here!

Someone finally help you understand that $2.4 trillion is actually more than $1.6 trillion, jimmie?

The problem with jimmie's economic experts - and the blind lapdogs that soak up their every word - is that they'd rather congratulate themselves for 'knowing' what should have happened rather than seeing with their own eyes what did happen.

Let's see - unemployment went down. Corporate tax revenues soared. Overall federal revenues increased by something in the neighborhood of 35% - in three years, to their highest levels of all time. The economy expanded at twice what anyone had projected.

And to poor little jimmie, these were all BAD things.

What a loser.

Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

BTW - Mankiw called those who claim that broad-based income tax cuts would have such large supply-side effects that the tax cuts would raise tax revenue "charlatans and cranks."

Sounds appropriate.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey, jimmie-boy - quick question. And see if you can get the answer without having one of your economic experts tell you what your answer should be:

Which is bigger, $2.4 trillion or $1.6 trillion?

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

That could be.

Or it could be that he wanted to allow all of the spending, but not take responsibility for it, so he just let Congress do it, knowing that people would probably blame them.

Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

And jafs -

One might also question why a "supply side" remedy such as marginal tax rate reduction would use a useful tool for a - DEMAND- collapse.

independant1 4 years, 3 months ago

or as Maggy Thatcher said, "We've run out of other peoples money ..."

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

"I can't wait for his second term to start!"

You will likely have a very loooooooooooong wait.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 3 months ago

Or a very short wait...I guess we'll find out, eh?

Flap Doodle 4 years, 3 months ago

I wonder who made Daley the offer that he couldn't refuse....

Stuart Evans 4 years, 3 months ago

she'll leave when she needs to start campaigning for 2012. that will be right after Palin announces her candidacy.

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

"All the major media completed their first rounds of post-Labor Day reporting and polling this week and pronounced, with one voice, that voters are ready to strip the Democrats of one, if not both, of their congressional majorities."

Indeed. The "liberal" mainstream media bias continues.....

What effect, I wonder, does all media proclaiming nonstop that the Democrats will be big losers in the fall elections have on the actual election results?

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

I don't know that there's any bias, one way or the other, in being able to read a poll.

And the effect of the media actually probably works against the Republicans, not in their favor. A lot of Republicans might stay home thinking it's in the bag, while a lot of Democrats, who really don't have a lot to be excited about, might get motivated.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

It's hard to judge the effect.

But why should we be letting media influence elections in any way at all?

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

And why do we conclude that they do? A belief in that really reflects poorly on the intelligence of the voters. Or should we conclude that Obama only got elected because he spent five times as much on advertising?

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

You just said it did.

And, the fact that the candidate who spends the most almost always gets elected has been well documented.

independant1 4 years, 3 months ago

Yup, incumbent campaign war chests are one of my fav rants.

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

There is bias in what you decide to print, or not. If the nation's media is controlled by small number of non-local, large corporate entities, they will tend to print and support their own biases.

With regard to whether media messages support republicans or Democrats, one only has to look to the elimination of the fairness doctrine and the subsequent, and so far largely successful, efforts of the right wing propoaganda machine to gin up manufactuired controversy before each election. Someone paying even causal attention to the polical events of the last 10-20 years can see how the media helps right wing interests

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

While this might have been a concern in the past, I don't really think it is now. There are just too many sources of information out there. And that's part of the problem I was referring to. People can get on the internet and find a 'news' or information source that will tell them exactly what they want to hear. But to someone who really is interested in getting a more objective view, that's available all over the place, too.

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

That's nice, in theory, but in reality, most Americans accept without much scrutiny the message they are told via the major forms of media: tv, radio and print. In each medium, there is an understandable, but clear, bias toward the owners of the media outlet. Increasingly the owners of the media are large, national or multinational corporations and their content reflects that bias. Right wing propaganda artists have made quite an effort to persuade Americans that this is not so, and have been largely successful in doing so. Not everyone believes everything they are told, however, and I can still form my own opinions.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

I understand that the practice is quite different from the theory, and despite the availability of thousands of sources of information, people will tend to pick one major one and stick to it. That tends to be less and less TV, radio, or newspapers, though - more and more 'newspapers' aren't even putting out hard copy anymore.

But how is that any different than it's always been? Some people in Washington read the Post, some read the Times. People tend to pick the news source that fits their own views. The point I was trying to make, perhaps badly, was that the more diversity you have, the more narrowly targeted those sources become, catering to smaller and smaller groups. You're right that the information is always skewed by who's presenting it. But more diversity doesn't help that, it just skews it in a lot more directions. Which, in the long run, I think is harmful - after a while, when you're flooded with the same core information skewed a hundred different ways, you don't know who, if anyone, to believe.

BTW, maybe I'm misreading what you said, but are you implying that just because news and information conglomerates are consolidating into bigger and bigger corporations, then they will always be biased towards the right?

Can you say CBS-Time-Warner?

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

Yes, Notajayhawk, that is exactly what I am saying.

How is it different? Well, you have handfuls of interests controlling media now and exerting control. Look at the whole net neutrality move that Google and Verizon are making to assert a tight grip on what will be available on the internet. If you have the same 4-5 media conglomerates controlling the internet and tv, you very quickly can see the ability to control the population. I think it is going on today, and disagree vehemently with your assertion that more diversity of media is harmful to the country.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm not sure I meant harmful to the country. More to the individuals. I have too much faith in people as a whole to say it would harm the entire country, I think most people have the ability to cut through the manure and think for themselves. I was thinking more of the effect on some individuals, those who don't want objectivity and can't handle it - there will always be some fringe group that can tell them exactly what they want to hear, exactly what makes sense to them. Maybe I'm not explaining myself well.

So you think CBS-Time-Warner, then, because of its size, is skewed towards the right? The right of who??

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 3 months ago

I am just wondering how many drinks Boehner needs to be able to do his job.

I am not sorry for those people who believe in this guy. They deserve him.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

"Dems, in their campaign ads, are not even bringing up their very own flagship legislation to-date since Obama took office: ObamaCare."

Well, it's not a great selling point to use in a campaign: 'Vote for us because we ignored what you told us and shoved something down your throat you didn't want.'

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

Don't pull a muscle patting yourself on the back for being right about things that haven't happened yet. Your need to congratulate yourself reeks of desperation to have your credibility confirmed undoubtedly because you are so often wrong.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Actually, it's more the failure to acknowledge what's going on in front of your own eyes that "reeks of desperation".

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Awww, jimmie, how'd ya' figure out I was talking about you?

You're right, of course, I was. How'd you figure that out without someone telling you what to think?

nverlost 4 years, 3 months ago

@ grammaddy - "I'm with you! Why turn Congress back over to the same idiots who got us in this mess in the first place?!"

I always get a kick out of this rebuttal from left winger nut jobs. This whole mess started with the sub prime mortgage meltdown. Somehow it was Bush's fault though right? As someone who voted for this president I can honestly say I wish I could take my vote back. He's spending money on way too many projects that aren't working - and he keeps on doing it, never realizing what they are doing to this country. He promised health care costs to go down but now most reports are saying they will go up as result of his prematurely pushed through health care bill. Arrogance? Naive? I don't know but what I do know is that I got sold a bad bill of goods by a sweet talking salesman in '08.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Republicans, including Bush, generally favor less regulation of the private sector.

Many of the mortgages, and the securities that were backed by them, were the result of the lack of oversight and regulation of the private sector.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Lack of oversight? Or having to write bad loans to people who never should have qualified? Whose fault was that?

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

The loans made without documentation to unqualified buyers were made, for the most part, by private mortgage brokers, as far as I know.

The Community Reinvestment Act, which is what I assume you're referring to, specifies that the loans are to be "safe and sound".

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

There is a difference between blaming bush and a message to the voters not to return to those disasterous policies.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

You've got to be kidding me.

That's almost the only thing that most Americans do - look for who to blame.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Just look at these comments sections.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Just look at these comments sections.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

True “leaders” don’t blame previous administrations (or anyone) for their problems

George Bush from a speech at a Mississippi High School in 2002,

""When I took office, our economy was beginning a recession," Bush said in a speech at a Mississippi high school. "Then our economy was hit by terrorists. Then our economy was hit by corporate scandals. But I'm certain of this: We won't let fear undermine our economy and we're not going to let fraud undermine it either."

And then again during the 2004 election

"Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession," he told donors at a Bush-Cheney '04 reception yesterday in Miami. He has raised the same accusation in fundraising appearances since mid-June in Washington, Georgia, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco."

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

Or you could admit your definition of "true leader" is not tethered to reality. If you can google an example of just about anything then why didn't you in your diatribe? From now on will you refer to George W Bush as the Former Whiner in Chief?

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Wow. You found two instances of Bush stating the condition of the economy when he took office. While Obama made it his only campaign point, and has continued to harp on it every day.

Oh, and there's one other slight difference: When he made that second speech, he'd already taken the action that started the economy recovering - right about then, actually. See, thus, the Obamapologists blame Bush for the fact that Obama didn't fix anything. Bush did.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

That's just not true.

He also campaigned on changing the way we fight the wars, closing Guantanamo, respecting civil liberties, rebuilding our alliances, gay and lesbian issues, changing the culture in Washington, ...

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, I should have said he campaigned on nothing other than blaming Bush. It wasn't just the economy. He also blamed Bush for the war, for Guantanamo, for supposedly infringed-upon civil liberties, for our alliances needing to be rebuilt .............

By the way, jafs?

Wanna' find where he kept any of those other campaign promises, either? Let's see - he expanded the war in Afghanistan, Guantanamo is still open, he lauded the decision of the federal courts to dismiss the lawsuits from the detainees who said they were moved around the world and tortured, we still have DADT and DOMA - oh, and you forgot healthcare, which he said he would make affordable, and now admits it's likely to get more expensive.

And changing the culture in Washington?

Seriously?

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Nice switch of topic.

But, yes, that's exactly why he's being criticized by the left - for not following through enough on those promises.

Which is why it's sort of silly that the right keeps trying to portray him as "far-left".

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

The fact that he's proven incapable of delivering on his promises in no way diminishes his leanings, since he still made the promises to get elected.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Or, as my father-in-law believes, he did what he needed to do to get elected.

And then tried to govern "from the center".

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 3 months ago

I thought Obama defended his positions very well in Ohio and I think he still can look very impressive.

Most of the stuff the Republicans have been doing has been effective with a minority of the electorate who only see politics as good vs evil.

I think no one really knows much about the health care bill and they certainly don't know much about the stimulous either.

No way you can spend that much money without spending a lot of it on stupid things. That is what government does.

Did it help? Probably.

But we are a part of the fast food generation and we want all of our problems solved and delivered in a happy meal box with a toy.

If Boehner throws in a toy we like, a lot of people will buy into it.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

"I thought Obama defended his positions very well in Ohio and I think he still can look very impressive.

"Most of the stuff the Republicans have been doing has been effective with a minority of the electorate who only see politics as good vs evil."

So the people who buy the weasel-in-chief's BS are the enlightened ones, and the ones who listen to the Republicans (or can see with their own eyes) are the ones buying into the fear. Okay, got it.

(Oh, BTW, though - apparently the Republican message is appealing to a little more than a minority of the voters.)

"I think no one really knows much about the health care bill and they certainly don't know much about the stimulous either. "

Translate as 'If you don't agree with me, you obviously can't know as much as me.' After all, nobody in their right mind who has read and analyzed the bill could possibly have any objections.

"No way you can spend that much money without spending a lot of it on stupid things. That is what government does."

And your acceptance of that as just being the way things are is exactly what the problem is.

"Did it help? Probably."

Ya' think that a year or more after p***ing away almost a trillion dollars, we might have a little more than a 'probably'?

"But we are a part of the fast food generation and we want all of our problems solved and delivered in a happy meal box with a toy."

While that may be true, it is not why many people are unhappy with the Democrats. I doubt anyone expected everything to be hunky-dory a year-and-a-half after the election - heck, it took Bush almost 2-1/2 to turn around the recession Clinton dumped on him. But while the amount of time passed since the Democrats had complete control of the government may not have been long enough to expect everything to be fixed, it HAS been long enough to see HOW they're trying to fix it. And guess what - people don't like what they're doing.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Come on.

Clinton left Bush with a budget surplus.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

The bad news came on Nov. 26, 2001. The NBER, led by an informal economic adviser to Bush, Martin Feldstein, pronounced that economic activity peaked in March 2001, "a determination that the expansion that began in March 1991 ended in March 2001 and a recession began." At the time, Bush accepted the verdict with perfect accuracy. "This week, the official announcement came that our economy has been in recession since March," he said in his radio address the next weekend.

But don't take Bush or his economic adviser's word just keep buying the Republican line.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Wow. Guess he had a pretty big impact in two months.

Funny how you all seem to think that his interventions weren't responsible for the recovery, but somehow he managed to cause the recession after only two months in office.

By the way, try doing your research instead of listening to the sound bites from Media Matters. You are correct that the NBER made their declaration of when the recession started in November 2001. At that time, third-quarter growth for the year 2000 was reported at 1.3%. That was subsequently revised to -0.5%, indicating the recession had actually started much earlier. Feldstein admitted as much later down the road.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

So you think that education is useless.

Got it.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

As evidenced by the quality of a large portion of the posts in a college-town paper, education does not always correlate with intelligence.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

As evidenced by the quality of a large portion of the posts in a college-town paper, education does not always correlate with intelligence.

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

Also, LJW bloggers can do themselves a favor by simply not pointing out the flaws and inaccuracies of the daily Shewmonisms found here. Please permit Tom the satisfaction of posting his inanities without worrisome facts or counter argument. Thank you.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 3 months ago

It doesn't take a Harvard, Brown or Columbia degree to know that schpeel is not a real word. Did you mean spiel? I assume you don't value their education because yours was so poor.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm sure everyone will be tripping over each other to vote for Palin... [end sarcasm]

tbaker 4 years, 3 months ago

A recent Ohio poll, by a democratic polling outfit, found by a 50-42 margin Ohio voters would prefer to have George Bush back in the White House right now.

The state of Ohio was for the president in the last election. No longer. Ohio, with a couple historical exceptions, is one of the best measures of the country's mood on politics. I predict the Dems will lose both houses of congress by a margin potentially larger than the 1994 election.

The party of the sitting president almost always does poorly in the mid-term election, but if these predictions come to pass, I fail to see how his presidency can be judged as a success by any contemporary measure. His sudden turn back to the right with his business tax-break idea is a clear indication he knows this all too well.

notajayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

This is amusing:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100911/ap_on_bi_ge/us_obama

"Obama: Voter anger could hurt Dems in elections"

Well, that's only fair, since it's the only thing that got you elected in the first place, Barry.

"Still, he said, "If the election is about the policies that are going to move us forward versus the policies that will get us back into a mess, then I think the Democrats will do very well.""

The problem is, Barry, we've seen the direction you call 'forward' - and it seems we'd rather have the 'mess' back.

Oh, and I loved this part:

"Obama suggested he might be open to "further conversation" down the road with Republicans, but "my position is let's get done what we all agree on" first — the tax cuts for everyone but the wealthiest."

Okay, we had to swallow that 2700+ page piece of garbage called healthcare 'reform' because we just had to do something, and to get the part done that we all agreed on, we had to swallow the whole pill. NOW he figures out how to do things piece by piece?

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