James Joyner notes that Andrew Sullivan “has never supported the same man in consecutive elections.” I have no idea if that’s true, but the occasion for Joyner’s observation is Sullivan’s rant about the Obama budget. Sullivan says Obama’s budget says “Screw You, Suckers!” to anyone under 30 who helped get the man elected.
I think it’s too early to tell. Marketplace, tonight, concisely explains:
JOHN DIMSDALE: Obama’s budget director Jack Lew was asked why the budget doesn’t reflect some of the dramatic entitlement and tax reforms recommended by the President’s deficit commission last December.
JACK LEW: I would say history is a pretty good guide.
JOHN DIMSDALE: Lew knows from experience that being first with a bold and specific plan only sets up a big target for the political opposition. The road to a grand compromise is for each side to stake out a position, declare an impasse and then meet behind closed doors to come up with something everyone can back.
Stan Collender watches the budget for Qorvis Communications.
STAN COLLENDER: The president probably looked and said, “I’m not going to go first here. I will propose those things that are relatively safe.” Although he’s taking a lot of heat from both sides for even those things. And then the bigger, more difficult questions, we’ll have to do together or it won’t get done at all.
JOHN DIMSDALE: But Collender says it may take a government shutdown before leaders see the necessity for really getting down to business.
Jonathan Chait makes the same, but different, argument:
I actually see the administration’s budget gambit as a subtle attempt to change peoples’ minds. The administration is loudly publicizing the fact that it’s cutting programs it thinks are necessary. The message, sometimes made explicit, is that the budget actually does not contain a lot of waste. It’s filled with programs that have survived many previous rounds of belt-tightening for a reason. If you want to cut the budget, you have to cut useful and necessary things.
I don’t think this will have a big effect. But I do think Obama is trying, in a passive-aggressive way, to do what liberals have demanded. He’s explaining to the public that the free-ride view of budget cutting — we can cut our way out of the deficit by eliminating waste and spending that only benefits foreigners — is wrong.
Chait thinks Obama is playing it reasonably well. I’m as impressed as I possibly could be. I don’t get that we don’t see that Obama’s a master of the sausage making machinery in DC.
I watched Jack Lew on the morning shows today and I was bowled over. He’s not as impressive in this White House White Board video (someone tell the man where the camera is, didn’t we learn from Michele?) but I’m sold:
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) thinks the GOP should ‘stare down’ Obama over a government shutdown. What say you TMV? Does anyone think that will work? Discuss.