Conceder In ChiefAt this point in time there is absolutely no evidence that Obama was serious in any of his liberal campaign promises. He has delivered on nothing. He has done a head fake toward a couple, but mainly he has followed a centre-right political agenda and let his opponents go cracy calling him a "socialist"!
Amanda Marcotte is right: of course the big problem is the craziness of the GOP. That said, I am among those in a state of suppressed rage and panic over the president’s negotiating strategy.
I’d like to believe that it’s all 11-dimensional political chess; but at this point — after the midterm debacle, after the big concession on taxes without even getting a raise in the debt limit — what evidence do we have that Obama knows what he’s doing?
It’s very hard to avoid the impression that three things are going on:
1. Obama really just isn’t that into Democratic priorities. He really doesn’t much care about preserving Medicare for all seniors, keeping Social Security intact, and so on.
2. What he is into is his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend the partisan divide. He imagines that he can be the one who brings about a big transformation that settles disputes for decades to come — and has been unwilling to drop that vision no matter how many times the GOP shows itself utterly uninterested in anything except gaining the upper hand.
3. As a result, he can’t or won’t see what’s obvious to everyone else: that any Grand Bargain will last precisely as long as Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and will be torn up in favor of privatization and big tax cuts for the wealthy as soon as the GOP has the chance.
I hope I’m wrong about all this. But when has Obama given progressives any reason to believe they can trust him?
What drives me crazy is that these politicians and their enablers sell themselves as "for the people" before the get elected, then act as corporate and billionaire gofers during office, and when they are out of office they suddenly find their political "inner self" and once again spout concerns for "the people". Here is an example. Larry Summers was Obama's top man for economics. While in power he made all the mistakes that has created this now 4+year recession into the Little Depression, but now that he is out of power he has "found religion" and is concerned about jobs!
I think the biggest problem the country has right now is not the budget deficit. The biggest problem the country has right now is the jobs deficit. Yes, there’s a risk that we will misplay things and make the mistakes of the 1970′s, and have inflation and have excessive borrowing.Sadly Obama is going to recreate the mistakes of 1937. The US is adrift and on the shoal.
But far and away the larger risk is that we will make the mistakes of 1937, and that we will not have a recovery that is sustained, that we will make the mistakes that Japan made, and that we will have a decade or two of stagnation. The right question to be focused on is how to stimulate demand.
Update: Here is a bit more from Krugman in his NY Times blog:
Obama / Nixon
Bruce Bartlett says what you’re not supposed to say: Obama has governed as a moderate conservative, somewhat to the right of Richard Nixon. The frothing-at-the-mouth comments are an extra bonus.
And it is, of course, true; although Obama defenders would say that he had no option. Still, the point is that if you ask what Mitt Romney would probably be doing if he were in the White House and not trying desperately to convince his party that he shares its madness, it would look a lot like what Obama is doing.