Summarizing Larry, comments, and adding some complementary thoughts, here are some of the problems folks raised:
President Obama: The POTUS is taking a lot of heat right now: he leads from behind, he’s embraced the austerity/anti-Keynes theme, he’s much too quick to compromise, he caved on revenues in the current budget deal after caving on high-end Bush cuts last year.
I’m still a big believer in the President’s economic agenda, which is forward looking and strong in investment, in innovation, and in creating new opportunities for American workers. But that may be more because I remember this agenda from back in the day when we used to talk about it. I agree that there’s something to these critiques.
I don’t like the austerity language either (I’ve been critical of the gov’t budget=family budget language from the early days of OTE) and I dislike the policy implications—accepting a budget deal with no revenue–even more so.
But I’m less critical of the President than many others on the left. It’s probably true that as a pragmatist up against ideologues, he’s brought a knife to a gunfight. But I have a hard time imagining anyone with the best interests of the country at heart doing a much better job against the people with whom he’s dealing.
And while these last weeks have not been his moment, I can’t forget how damn tough and persistent he was during health care reform and throughout the depths of the economic crash. I know there are real issues here, but I believe this President is going to find his footing again soon and remind a lot of people of what he can accomplish for this nation and this economy.
R’s are United Behind a Simple Message, D’s are Not. Absolutely. Guilty as charged. But Larry needs to push further here, beyond diagnosis and into cure. Help us out, dude!
Recovery Act/Keynesian Stimulus is Perceived to Have Failed. This is a tough reality with which we must deal. As stressed in this strategy memo, and echoed by Haas, if folks believe their hard-earned, much-needed dollars are wasted on boondoggles that don’t help the economy, they’re going to respond much more positively to tax and spending cuts than stimulus policies.
Their perception is wrong, but clearly perception is trumping facts right now.
The Media: Eh…maybe, and sure, always lots of examples of bad and lazy work. I’m particularly frustrated by the “pox on both your houses” routine, when it’s clearly one House that’s refused to negotiate, “Cantoring” away when the deal moved from spending cuts to tax revenues.
But I don’t think this problem is any worse than usual, and there’s also been a lot of good reporting of late. I refuse to make a list of the reporters I consider to be strong, fact-based, and willing to call out falsehoods when they see them because I’m sure I’ll leave someone out. But you know who you are.
Again, all of this is diagnosis. Still to come, prescriptions.