Tuesday, Brooks argued that “the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous.” This argument apparently riled up the Administration enough that they called Brooks in for a convincing session. But the columnist wasn’t easily dissuaded from his starting assessment:
I didn’t finish these conversations feeling chastened exactly. The fact is, after years of economic growth, the White House still projects perpetual deficits of more than $500 billion a year. That’s way too much, especially with the boomers’ retirements looming. Moreover, Congress will likely pass the spending parts of the budget and kill the revenue parts, like the cap-and-trade energy tax and the limits on itemized deductions, thus producing much, much bigger deficits.
Plus, I’m still convinced the administration is trying to do too much too fast and that the hasty planning and execution of these complex policies will lead to untold problems down the road.
Notably, that’s not the end of the story. Brooks wraps up his column thus:
… the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation. I’m more optimistic that if Senate moderates can get their act together and come up with their own proactive plan, they can help shape a budget that allays their anxieties while meeting the president’s goals.
We all know it has been too long since we had a White House that was “sophisticated and fact-based.” In fact, those qualities were among the primary reasons many moderates (including this one) voted for Obama and cheered his early cabinet appointments. We can now hope that Mr. Brooks is right and that Senate moderates (today rather than in 2010) prove to be Mr. Obama’s Gingrich.