To be blunt, last week was not a good week to be a progressive.
The Coakley/Brown race. The Supreme Court ruling on corporate “Free Speech”. You know the drill.
But it was looking like Obama was starting to show some fight. He introduced the Volker Rule for banks and strongly condemned the SCOTUS decision so it was looking light he was starting to show some fight. That finally, he was getting ready to kick some ass!
Today…not so much.
WASHINGTON – Facing voter anger over mounting budget deficits, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to freeze spending for some domestic programs for three years beginning in 2011, administration officials said Monday.Separately, Obama unveiled plans to help a middle class “under assault” pay its bills, save for retirement and care for kids and aging parents.
The spending freeze would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year. The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion.
Now I’m not a world class economist but I seem to vaguely remember that a spending freeze was the thing that you don’t do in an economic downturn. Oh, wait. Look what I found! A world class economist…
It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)
It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.
And this next paragraph is what puts the shiv in my heart…
And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”
Yep, I know the feeling.
Afghanistan: Yeah, he always said during the campaign he’d finish the job that Bush couldn’t so I’ll spot him that.
The Stimulus: Yeah, not large enough. But my feeling at the time was we could get another bite at the apple and watching the Republicans block and whittle down the bill could be used against them during the Health Care fight. (He’s says with a laugh marinated in both bitterness and hindsight.)
The Health Care Bill: He campaigns on a using a public option to help keep costs down but he refuses to let the loss of it be a deal breaker. He lets Congress take the lead on the efforts to craft the bill and we end up with a year of sausage making that would make the most dedicated Bratwurst connoisseur turn Vegan. And that effort is topped with a Senate bill with no Public Option AND funnels tons of money to the insurance companies that got us into this mess in the first place.
And THAT odious compromise may not even pass now! Leaving in place a system that will bust the budget that he’s trying to prune with a spending freeze.
And then of course there’s the issue of not prosecuting Bush and Cheney for war crimes. Also, the slowness in transparency issues, the problems with the fed…
Seriously, no wonder the base is getting cranky.
Half the base is ready to give up on him. The other half is screaming at the first half is enabling the people who hate Obama and that we need to trust him.
Me. I’m the pickle in the middle. Yes, I know a lot of this can be laid on the Senate but not all. Yes, I know we’ve seen a raft of improvements. (Still pulling out of Iraq, improved relations with our allies, reputation of torture.) And yes, I still believe that we are better off now than when we would be if McCain won.
But we need more, the country needs more!
The State of the Union is tonight and I am hoping that it will give us the second wind we need. Of course it will be equivalent and moving. He’s good at that. But part of me knows that speeches aren’t enough. He has to follow through! Otherwise it’ll be just the political equivalent of a rock concert. The music will be awesome but you know you’ll get gouged on the T-Shirts in the lobby.
Quick commercial announcement, I will be live tweeting the State of the Union tonight at Six O’Clock Pacific time. My twitter handle is TheRagingCelt. Also feel free to follow along with my Wonk List of progressives tweeting along.
Come on, it’ll be fun.