“Nobody” Is A Very Tough Opponent

June 4th, 2011 at 11:31 am

I did some media commentary last week on what impact the recent slowing of the economy might have on President Obama’s re-election.  It’s a tempting topic, but there are lots of ways it’s pretty off point right now.

First, it’s too early.  Opinions on the economy that affect the election will be much more the stuff of next summer than this one.

Second, economic indicator analysis can be too reductionist.  This is the analysis that goes, “if the unemployment is X, the incumbent is toast.”  I like the way Nate Silver explains it here.  There are so many more moving parts to this, and even if the level of unemployment stays too high (as is likely to be the case), as long as its coming down, that can matter more than the level itself.

But here’s the most important shortcoming of this analysis: “nobody” is a tough opponent.  Like my old boss the VP used to say, “don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

This is especially germane on the economy. Obama’s potential opponents will be singing from an economic policy songbook that’s no different from the one that got us into this mess.   Here’s a good guidepost: the recent jobs plan from House Republicans.  More tax cuts, less regulation, and remember, it was the House R’s that all supported Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, cut the safety net, and hand much of the savings over to the wealthiest households.

These ideas tickle the base, no doubt–though the Ryan plan may prove to be too much for even the party faithful.  But it’s hard to imagine this policy set resonating with the independents who may ultimately decide the next election.

I have no idea what the electoral dynamics will be a year from and neither does anyone else.  But I do know the President will be running against someone.  She or he may be a tough opponent, but they’ll be a lot less tough than nobody.

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6 comments in reply to "“Nobody” Is A Very Tough Opponent"

  1. denim says:

    The problem that I see with broad based tax cuts for companies is that nothing stops them from using the money against our interests. They can use that extra money to finance an offshore factory, for example. That produces “negative” jobs. Same with easy low interest credit. Likewise, tax cuts to the consumer results in him buying more imports. So that narrows stimulus to infrastructure and education. That produces jobs and tax revenue.

    Since the President cannot rule by decree, I think we need to concentrate on electing progressive Congressional candidates at least to the extent that we obtain a “super majority” of progressives. Then more democracy reigns.


  2. rootless_e says:

    Jared: Can you explain what wrong with my theory that the FRB should purchase the loan/asset inventory of the GSEs? Fannie has $800B of insured loans/mbs on the books and the Fed could buy them solving the budget crisis temporarily – and sending money to the government, which is spending, is more stimulative than sending it to PIMCO or banks.


  3. Virgil Bierschwale says:

    Nobody is the people of the World.
    The 75 percent that David E. Lindwall calls the unemployed and underpaid masses in this article.
    http://keepamericaatwork.com/?p=189761

    Nobody is the Billionaires of the World that realize it is up to them to restore the balance I describe in this article or see their wealth diminish in the coming decades.
    http://keepamericaatwork.com/?p=189611

    Nobody is the people the analysts and economists are willing to throw under the bus so that they may have theirs and to hell with the rest.
    http://keepamericaatwork.com/?p=190075

    Nobody is people like ole Virgil in Central Texas that have watched corporate America destroy their livelihood by sending work to China and India only to realize that corporate America will devastate the people in China and India by sending their work to Vietnam and Cambodia when they believe it has become too high.

    Nobody is people like these that are described in this video describing a race to the bottom for the majority of people in every country.
    http://keepamericaatwork.com/?page_id=67710

    Obama could win if he will drive all of the Wall Street people from Goldman Sachs and Corporate America from the White House.

    But he won’t do that and that is why he will lose and why somebody else that believes the answer is with corporate America will take his place and why things will continue to get worse until NOBODY finally gets fed up and revolts here on our shores in America.


  4. Jared Bernstein says:

    Fixed.


  5. Bob says:

    “Obama’s potential opponents will be singing from an economic policy songbook that’s no different from the one that got us into this mess. Here’s a good guidepost: the recent jobs plan from House Republicans. More tax cuts, less regulation, and remember, it was the House R’s that all supported Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, cut the safety net, and hand much of the savings over to the wealthiest households.”

    But will the electorate actually know this? I’m skeptical. It’s not like the Republicans won in the the last mid-term because of their ideas.


  6. Kevin Rica says:

    The 2012 Presidential Election reminds me of the 1945 World Series (when almost all the good players were still in uniform).

    One sportscaster was asked who he picked: the Tigers or the Cubs. He replied, “I don’t think either one of them can win it.”


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