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Posted by on Jan 31, 2010 in Economy, Politics | 9 comments

Deficits, of Budget and Attention

Within 24 hours this weekend, the President tackled two national shortfalls–dollars and cents in the government’s income vs. expenditures, civility and sense in the partisan debate over remedies for an economy ravaged by recession.

In his weekly address yesterday, Mr. Obama zeroed in on seven Republicans who had sponsored a bipartisan commission for deficit reduction but then voted against it in the Senate.

“Now, it’s one thing,” he said, “to have an honest difference of opinion about something. I will always respect those who take a principled stand for what they believe, even if I disagree with them.

“But what I won’t accept is changing positions because it’s good politics. What I won’t accept is opposition for opposition’s sake. We cannot have a serious discussion and take meaningful action to create jobs and control our deficits if politicians just do what’s necessary to win the next election instead of what’s best for the next generation.”

This admonition came only hours after the President’s unprecedented dialogue with Republicans at their Baltimore retreat Friday, which struck some observers as a marital-therapy session for political Bickersons, complaining about failures of communication in their relationship.

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  • Schadenfreude_lives

    OK, so here we have an idea, the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action, that gets hamstrung and attacked by both sides.Additionally, the effect of this Commission would be to require a vote on its recommendations, an idea that scares the bejesus out of a lot of the Senate.But they do hold a vote on whether it should be created. It needs 60 votes. It gets 53. Bot NOT 53 Democratic votes, with the nasty wasty Republicans thwarting the will of the Democratic majority. Oh no.The vote was 36D, 16R, 1I for, and 22D, 23R, 1I against. That 1I is a vote that caucuses with the Democrats. So, basically, 23D and 23R voted against. An equal number.Yet it somehow is still presented as the Republicans fault. I guess they had guns pointed at the Democrats’ heads that voted “no”.Good to see such an open and bi-partisan reaction from our President right after his meeting with the GOP. It makes me think of one of the SOTU headlines I saw – “President slams Republicans; calls for more bi-partisanship”.

    • DaMav

      Well done Schaden.

      Stein usually presents some hilarity in analysis. This time it was reading that Obama had “tackled” the problem of the deficit. Don’t look now but I think the deficit is still heading down field and just crossed the fifty. When Teh One is on the field, “tackling” consists of giving a speech about something.

    • shannonlee

      I think the point was that they had the votes to pass it and then Reps that co-sponsored the bill then flipped to kill it…for political reasons. He wasn’t blaming them for its failure…he was simply demonstrating how Reps are purposely trying to hurt Obama by killing bills that they would normally support. They don’t care what is best for America…they care about hurting Obama.

      Now that can be said for both sides…but this particular situation was a demonstration on how Reps do it.

      • Schadenfreude_lives

        shannonlee – I couldn’t disagree more.

        This bill had 20 Republican sponsors to 15 Democrats. So, from the beginning it had more Republican support than Democrats. That changed over time.

        The 7 co-sponsors that did eventually vote the other way did not just do so on a whim or to embarrass Obama. As it became obvious that the Committee was going to be used to push through tax increases, the absolutely worse thing you can do to the economy in the middle of a major recession/depression, they removed themselves as co-sponsors. So there was no surprise there. They did what they thought was the best for America, although to think that at least some of them didn’t listen to the feedback from home and are worried about their re-elections would be naive, and I am not naive.

        And some Democrats that did NOT support the bill, knowing the vote was doomed, now voted for it, for their own political purposes.

        Imagine that. Politicians on both sides voting for political reasons. Who would ever have seen that coming?

        But the Democrats continue to cry, ‘Oh woe is us! We are unable to pass any legislation without Republican support, despite our huge majorities. We couldn’t even do it when we had a Super-majority. It is obvious that our failings are not our fault. WE ARE VICTIMS!’

        Yep. Sounds like Democrats to me. “We are victims”.

        • shannonlee

          Very true, which is the general problem that Obama is trying to address on both sides of the isle. Granted, he needs to get the quacks in his own party on board first, but this was a great time for him to reach out to the Reps and start an honest dialog.

          I would love to see him meet next with the Dem House caucus and rip them a new one too.

          And in defense of Reps…the House is full of retards and making them look bad (actually I think they made themselves look bad) is like stealing from a baby. The Senate would have been a much better debate.

  • DLS

    “Stein usually presents some hilarity in analysis.”

    It’s a trademark.

  • DLS

    “We are unable to pass any legislation without Republican [political cover]”

    Truth in Dem advertising would produce something like the foregoing.

  • DLS

    “President Barack Obama will propose on Monday a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011 that projects the deficit will shoot up to a record $1.6 trillion this year, but would push the red ink down to about $700 billion, or 4% of the gross domestic product, by 2013, according to congressional aides.”

    “Under the Obama budget, this year’s $1.6 trillion deficit would fall to $1.3 trillion in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. It would drop to $700 billion in 2013 and 2014, the budget projects, on the assumption that the economy recovers, tax receipts start rising again with incomes, and stimulus spending drops off.

    The deficit would drop to the equivalent of 5% of GDP in 2013 through expected economic improvement alone. Policy changes proposed by the president, such as a proposed freeze in nonsecurity domestic spending, would shave an additional percentage point.

    Mr. Obama plans to rely on a new debt commission to come up with recommendations on how to meet his promise to bring the figure down to the equivalent of 3% of GDP by 2015, according to budget analysts briefed on the proposal.”

    “Isabel Sawhill, a budget expert at the Brookings Institution, criticized the president’s goal— a deficit of 3% of GDP long after the recession has ended—saying it amounted to ‘defining deficits down.’

    ‘The pay-go rules will make it more difficult for Congress to dig the hole deeper but won’t affect currently projected red ink; and the commission will likely be a paper tiger,’ she wrote on Friday. ‘In short, these proposals will still leave us with unsustainable deficits as far as the eye can see. It is depressing to discover that we can no longer even aspire to balance the budget once the recession is over.'”

  • DLS
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