July 29th, 2011
Americablog summarizes the argument that it is Obama’s desperate attempt to gut the social safety net and reduce taxes on the wealthy that is spiraling out of control: That is, the post claims Obama wasn’t forced into draconian cuts to programs that serve the majority, but wanted those cuts. In the process he unleashed forced he now can’t control. The result will be further suffering for the majority.
More about Obama (my thoughts, as usual, after that).
Now we are in the midst of a debt crisis that stems largely from Obama’s inability to accept the intransigence of his political opponents. Last December, he caved in to Republicans by supporting extension of the Bush tax cuts even though there is no evidence that they have done anything other than increase the deficit. There were those who told Obama that he ought to include an increase in the debt limit, but he rejected that idea[.] …
Obama has continued to reject any proposal that might give him leverage in the negotiations even as House Republicans appear unwilling or incapable of raising the debt limit before a default occurs.
And this, by Yves Smith:
Some historical accounts of the Great Fire of Rome, which destroyed three of the city’s fourteen districts and damaged seven others, depict it as an urban redevelopment project gone bad. Emperor Nero allegedly torched the district where he wanted to build his Domus Aurea. Hence any lyre-playing was not a sign of imperial madness, but a badly-informed leader not knowing his plans had spun badly out of control.
President Obama’s plan at social and economic engineering, of rolling back core elements of the Great Deal out of a misguided effort to cut spending in a weak economy, is similarly blazing out of control. The debt ceiling crisis was meant to be a scare to provide an excuse for measures that are opposed by broad swathes of the public. …
[W]hat an appalling display of misguided ego, inept negotiating postures, bad policy thinking, and utter disregard for the public interest are on display in this fiasco.
Obama’s continuing insistence on compromising, his continuing faith in bipartisanship despite two and a half years of evidence that these people don’t do compromise and will never make a deal, is looking obsessive and compulsive. It’s deeply frustrating.
And that’s Krugman trying not to psychoanalyze.
Me, I prefer to give Obama credit for knowing what he wants and trying to get it. I disagree with Bartlett: the Bush Tax Cuts Cave was part of the plan, the setup that makes the current dramatics possible. Yves Smith is right-on with the Nero comparison: the best-laid plans of emperors oft burn down the town.
If you really want to see Obama’s goals laid out (like a patient etherized upon a table), just look at the Simpson-Bowles report. Hand-picked chairs for a hand-crafted 14-guaranteed-vote commission — Obama’s fingerprints all over it. So here’s what the Deficit Commission co-chairs recommended, per the NY Times:
Under the plan, individual income tax rates would decline to … 23 percent on the highest bracket (now 35 percent). The corporate tax rate, now 35 percent, would also be reduced, to as low as 26 percent.
That’s in addition to this…
benefit cuts and an increased retirement age for Social Security
… as well as cuts to Medicare and a cap to federal spending at 21%, a move that Dave Dayen said would “stop progressive governance permanently.”
Krugman’s summary of this plan: “A major transfer of income to a small minority of wealthy Americans.”
You don’t need psychology to know what Obama wants. You just need a willingness to take him at his word.