Friday, July 22, 2011

Obama Blinks

Word is oozing out that the President has apparently caved in to Tea Party blackmail. If true, as White House leaks tend to be, the cliché about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory has become a working principle in Washington, and the future outlook could be even worse with many of the details yet to unfold.

Behind news of ”a package calling for as much as $3 trillion in savings from substantial spending cuts and future revenue produced by a tax code overhaul” is the reality that Barack Obama, with his party controlling the Senate, has apparently given in to the intractability of smug thugs who were elected to the House last year and handed them the reins of government.

In such a deal, the cuts in services would be real and immediate, with “future revenue” a cloudy rationalization to obscure the fact that this GOP minority has succeeded in preserving the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans--a resolution of the debt ceiling dilemma that makes no economic or moral sense.

Beyond that, it portends even worse for the future, as Paul Krugman notes:

“The disappearance of unemployment from elite policy discourse and its replacement by deficit panic has been truly remarkable. It’s not a response to public opinion. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, 53 percent of the public named the economy and jobs as the most important problem we face, while only 7 percent named the deficit. Nor is it a response to market pressure. Interest rates on U.S. debt remain near historic lows.”

Senate Democrats are expressing fury at the “sellout,” as well they should, but if the President has signed on, their options are limited.

If this is Barack Obama’s response to a manufactured crisis in which public opinion was behind him to do the right thing, he may have just raised the odds on a one-term presidency.

“Never get into a pissing contest with skunks” is the advice of country wisdom. But if you do, make sure you win and worry about cleaning up later. Right now, the White House in in bad odor.

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