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No, no, no, no, no

[ 109 ] July 24, 2011 |

Bill James once noted that the reason for doing research is to avoid paying the price for believing things that aren’t true. The apparently sincere belief of Obama and his political advisers that sending “messages” to the kind of voters Mark Penn makes up cute names to describe is more politically important that the actual state of the economy is a case in point. It’s simply not true, and this belief is not only bad for the country but bad for Obama’s re-election prospects. And this would be the case even if concrete spending cuts were actually popular, which they aren’t.

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  1. RepubAnon says:

    May the Good Lord save us from Democratic Party consultants. Their advice is universally bad, and they consistently lose elections (as you’ll recall, Hillary Clinton hired the top Democratic party consultants during the 2008 primaries – which was why Obama won the nomination.)

    Unfortunately, President Obama has them now…

  2. JeffL says:

    Actually the debt deal had an extension of long-term unemployment benefits and an extension of the payroll tax cut, which was estimated to bring in one million new jobs and raise GDP by 1.5 percent. So actually the administration is aware that the economy is crucial to re-election

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/92552/obama-wanted-deal-payroll-holiday-unemployment-ratings-downgrade

    Obama and his advisers are looking at the same job numbers as the rest of us. And they think this budget deal could be their best, if not last, chance to get legislation that would boost consumer demand and jobs. According to a senior administration official, Boehner last week had indicated his agreement with an extension of unemployment insurance, some kind of renewal of the payroll tax holiday, and at least some “language” about future funding for highways. Together, those steps would likely have pumped about $160 billion, maybe more, into the economy over the next year.

    I checked with a few economists. The consensus was that, very roughly, such a stimulus would lift gross domestic product by 1.5 percentage points. That would translate to about a million additional jobs.

    • R, Johnston says:

      Uh, no. That’s not any kind of a stimulus at all balanced against the spending cuts that would be included in any deal. You can put chocolate sprinkles on a shit pie, but it’s still a shit pie.

      • JeffL says:

        It depends where the spending cuts fall, and how much it takes out of the economy. If they’re immediate and affect areas that would reduce demand than sure. But we have to see the details.

        Unfortunately though it’s looking like we might get a deal Reid is pushing through that has only cuts, no revenue, and no payroll tax cut or unemployment benefits extension.

    • Murc says:

      Absent evidence, I reject the hypothesis that GDP growth NECESSARILY translates into jobs and/or wage growth. The rentier class is awfully good at funneling GDP gains into its own hands and not sharing.

      • ajay says:

        I’m having difficulty imagining a credible scenario which has GDP growth but no wage growth and no employment growth.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Corporate profit growth, fueled by either exports in manufacturing, or rent extraction in the financial sector.

        • soullite says:

          So you reject the current economy then?

          Must be nice…

          • ajay says:

            Average hourly wages are growing in the US, soullite. Employment’s pretty well static though, so you’re half right.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Not really.

              In June, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 1 cent to $22.99. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.9 percent. In June, average hourly earnings of private-sector
              production and nonsupervisory employees declined by 1 cent to $19.41. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

              So earnings are falling behind a very low inflation rate.

              • Malaclypse says:

                See here on real wage data:

                Real average hourly earnings fell 1.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, from June 2010 to June 2011. A 0.6 percent increase in average weekly hours combined with the decrease in real average hourly earnings resulted in a 0.9 percent decrease in real average weekly earnings during this period.

            • Bill Murray says:

              in any case average is not a good measure to choose as it is rather prone to distortion especially when one side of the distribution is limited.

        • timb says:

          The entire last decade?

  3. Rob says:

    $160 billion is nothing given that all its doing is continuing an existing tax cut and unemployment benefits. Its not stimulus, its just not anti-stimulus.

    • JeffL says:

      It still is estimated to generate 1 million jobs. That’s insufficient obviously, but better than what we’ve got now. And better than what we’re likely to get out of this Republican congress.

      It depends on the details of the spending cuts though as to how much the deal altogether would help the immediate economy, if at all.

      My point though is that the administration wouldn’t be pushing the extensions if they didn’t feel it was important to create jobs through pumping demand into the economy, contrary to the post and editorial from Krugman.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        First, the original piece does say “very roughly.” So let’s not pretend we have anything concrete.

        Second, since we’re talking about simply not eliminating something that we already have, I’m skeptical that Cohn got the language right. Are we talking about 1.5 percentage points and one million jobs ahead of where we are right now, or are we only talking 1.5 percentage points and one million jobs ahead of where we are projected to be, given some murky set of conditions and circumstances?

        I’ve seen these kinds of shell games before. It’s important to get as specific as possible with economists, every single time you talk to one about anything at all.

  4. DrDick says:

    It has been obvious almost from day one that the Obama administration believes in fairies and unicorns. There is no other explanation for their ongoing belief that you can negotiate with Republicans.

    • Murc says:

      To be fair, when Republicans and pseudo-Republicans control any veto point, you do HAVE to negotiate with them.

      What’s got me baffled is their negotiating stances. I’ll conceded that maybe I’m just an idiot and they’re actually doing a wonderful job, and certainly (last December) I’ve been proven wrong in my skepticism before.

      But good lord, when Harry Reid is pimping ‘cuts now, revenue later(never)’ as the DEMOCRATIC position? And not positioning himself to say ‘the value of the hostage is such that we have to negotiate with these terrorists?’ It makes it real hard to be faithful.

      I think I’ll wait to see what deal we actually get before freaking the fuck out, tho. There have been so many unsubstantiated leaks the past few days.

      • R, Johnston says:

        Even if it looks like you have to negotiate with Republicans, negotiation with Republicans still remains a physical and logical impossibility.

        Which is why the whole bipartisan woo position back when Democrats held the House and 58-60 votes in the Senate was completely insane. Obama needed to have Biden in the Senate, on day one, using his power as President of the Senate to unilaterally end the filibuster. Bipartisanship fucked the economy and brought Republicans to power.

        • Murc says:

          Wait… will that work?

          I know that its possible to end the filibuster by using an un-filibusterable organizing resolution at the beginning of a new Congress. (And the failure of the Democratic Party to do that is insane.) But the President of the Senate can end it unilaterally? Really? How does that work?

          • R, Johnston says:

            He rules the filibuster out of order. Overturning that ruling requires a majority vote. He can do that as many times as he has patience for.

            • Murc says:

              Can he do that even if the filibuster clearly ISN’T out of order? I mean, the Senate has the power to make its own rules of operation; that’s black-letter con law. If there’s an organizing resolution in play that says filibusters are a-okay, then it would seem like the President of the Senate couldn’t do jack shit about it.

              • R, Johnston says:

                As the President of the Senate, that ruling is up to him if he wants to make it. If he wants to make quirky rulings in order to fix a politically broken Senate then the Senate can overrule by majority vote or ask the House to impeach, but that’s about all the Senate can do.

                Essentially, filibusters require the consent of the majority of the Senate because the majority always, at any time, is given the power to change rules directly by the Constitution, and nothing can ever take away that power short of Constitutional Amendment. The Vice President can certainly force the issue in his role as President of the Senate.

                • Murc says:

                  I’m sorry, but that just seems flat-out wrong to me.

                  The Senate is allowed to set up its rules any way it wants to at the beginning of every new Congress. If it decided that you needed a 99 to 1 supermajority in order to change the rules during a Congress, then that organizing resolution is entirely valid and can’t be undone by a simple majority vote.

                  And I reject the notion that a Vice President should issue ruling after ruling that is baldfacedly and obviously wrong. We’re not talking ‘quirky’ we’re talking ‘I have decided that this obviously valid thing is not valid.’

                • mpowell says:

                  Murc, you’re not getting it. There are no true super-majority requirements in the Senate because as far as the rest of the country is concerned, if a majority of Senators say they passed a bill, they passed a bill. Sure, they can setup whatever rules they want, but the only people who are responsible for enforcing those rules are Senators. Nobody can tell the Senate how they run itself whether that is the set of rules they operate under or whether they are correctly following their own rules. So if a majority of them simple choose to ignore all their rules, nobody outside the Senate has anything to say about it one way or another.

                • Murc says:

                  That doesn’t seem to be true, though, mpowell. I mean, look at Wisconsin. The question of whether or not their union-busting law was valid or not hinged on whether or not the Republican-dominated legislature there properly passed it in accordance with their own procedures. If it had been found that they had NOT, the law would have been struck down and found invalid by the courts.

                  By your logic, that law was valid on its face because a majority of the legislators involved said it was. The legal system denies that logic at the state level, and I see no reason it wouldn’t do so at the Senate level either.

                • John says:

                  The open meeting requirement, as I understand it, is a Wisconsin law, not an internal rule of the Wisconsin state legislature.

                • Murc,

                  You believe there are things to consider in the function of government besides getting what you want. You think that people should be fair, should not violate rules, should be honest. You don’t think that “Who’s gonna stop him?” is a legitimate answer to the question “Is he allowed to do that?”

                  Your position was quite popular on the left during the Bush/Delay/Frist years, but it has become quite unpopular since early 2009.

                • Murc says:

                  The Bush years seriously radicalized me when it comes to the rule of law and methodical legitimacy. I wouldn’t say I’m in the ‘The Constitution IS a suicide pact, motherfuckers’ camp but I’ve flirted with saying just that at times.

        • DrDick says:

          Exactly my point!

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      “To be fair, when Republicans and pseudo-Republicans control any veto point, you do HAVE to negotiate with them.”

      The public debt of the United States shall not be questioned. It’s right there in the Constitution. President Obama is negotiating with Republicans to destroy the New Deal not because he has to, but because he wants to.

      • Bill Murray says:

        plus, there are quite a few things that can be done directly through the action of the executive branch

      • John says:

        This is insane. If the House refuses to raise the Debt Ceiling, Obama just unilaterally ignores it and issues new debt anyway? That’s something he might theoretically do, I guess, but do you really think that the only reason he might not want to do that is because he wants to destroy the New Deal? This is just idiocy.

        • Walt says:

          You mean the way that Obama ignored the War Powers act and went ahead and kept bombing Libya?

          • Noting that the President has greater latitude in foreign and military affairs than in domestic policy doesn’t make the point you wish to make.

            Yes, the President can do a lot more without Congress in Libyan than he can in America.

            • Murc says:

              To further joe’s comment; Obama can ignore the WPA (and I both think that he is and think that he shouldn’t be) because Congress doesn’t give a shit.

              Congress DOES give a shit about the debt ceiling, and when Congress actually cares about something its dick is STILL bigger than the Presidents.

              See how easy that was to understand?

              • Walt says:

                What, you’re going to be patronizing now? That’s your argument? “I’m patronizing, that’s how you know my bald-faced assertion is right?”

                And Congress? The Congress where the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, well over the 40 necessary to block action?

  5. calling all toasters says:

    If John McCain were President, the Senate would vote down any packages this destructive to the recovery (and this right-wing). Thank goodness we’ve got Obama to make sure it’s seen as the moderate, sensible approach.

  6. Ragout says:

    Despite the awful economy, Obama is still fairly popular. So it seems to me that his strategy of bipartisan compromiser to appeal to the median voter is working pretty well.

    And as Jonathan Cohn points out, $160 billion in stimulus now in exchange for future entitlement cuts isn’t a bad deal. The entitlement cuts can always be undone in 2013.

    • wengler says:

      Yes, because I’m sure at that point there will 60 votes in the Senate pushing for entitlement increases…

      • Ragout says:

        As I understand it, budget stuff only takes a majority vote due to “reconciliation.” But in any event, Social Security and Medicare are very popular, and to a lesser extent Medicaid is too. I don’t think it will be hard to find the votes to increase them.

        • Malaclypse says:

          As I understand it, budget stuff only takes a majority vote due to “reconciliation.”

          I’m pretty sure this is not the case.

          If legislation providing for new tax cuts or entitlement increases is not paid for, the “PAYGO” rule gives any senator the power to raise a point of order against the bill, which can only be waived by the vote of 60 senators. (emphasis added)

      • Every “Doc Fix” every passed was an entitlement increase.

    • soullite says:

      a 45% approval rating is not ‘fairly popular’, it’s ‘fairly unpopular’.

      You aren’t going to see many 27% approval rating Presidents. G.W. Bush is not an accurate metric by which to measure anything.

      • Pith Helmet says:

        Tell that to the head of the polling company who wrote a couple of weeks back about how he was baffled by Obama’s continued relative popularity despite all the events that have been battering his administration. Google it.

        • Furious Jorge says:

          Relative to what, though?

          • cer says:

            Relative to the state of the economy. It was Frank Newport at Gallup. (Here’s TPM on the numbers) Obama’s numbers are high given the economic measures and his relatively poor numbers on how he is handling the economy, other presidents in similar conditions have been in the 30s (Clinton and Reagan). So this means either he has unusual personal appeal or that he is not (only) being blamed for the poor economy.

        • dangermouse says:

          relatively popular given the catastrophic state of the economy != popular.

  7. wengler says:

    At this point, we gotta put our hope in the continuing ignorance of the Tea Party wing in the House. I can imagine 60 people in the millionaires’ club gleefully stealing from the pensions of the poor and giving it to the rich, but as long as there are enough morons in the House unwilling to vote for a debt ceiling increase, there is still hope for a last minute clean debt ceiling raise in the works.

    As for Obama, it seems I overestimated his ability to do the right thing as a last resort. Attempting to out-flank the GOP on the right even as a negotiating tactic is stupid. Pushing for a huge plan, just means that the Republicans can just come back and call for a smaller plan with no new revenue because they care about the debt, doncha know?

  8. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I’m curious-for those of you who are criticizing Obama, just what exactly should he do?
    How is he going to magically get the Republicans to vote on a clean bill?
    Threaten to arrest them?
    Or should he just go straight to the Constitutional option?

    • R, Johnston says:

      He should go with the principle of Congressional sovereignty: last in time, first in priority. When Congress passes a debt ceiling and later passes appropriations that smash through that debt ceiling, there is no more debt ceiling. Legislation that implicitly contradicts earlier legislation voids that earlier legislation.

      The Constitutional option is more drastic and less clearly correct. Its only advantage is that if successful it would obviate all future debt ceiling issues, while Congress can theoretically structure future appropriations such that following the universally acknowledged last-in-time rule isn’t sufficient to avoid another debt ceiling “crisis.”

    • Murc says:

      Obama, and Congressional Democrats in general, can’t make Republicans vote on a clean bill. That’s just… they don’t have the leverage.

      What they CAN do is make it very clear that the only reason this deal exists is because the Republicans took the country hostage and this is the payoff required to make them put their gun down. And that means things like the Democratic leader of the senate NOT proposing bills that are horrible policy and talking about the need for a robust bipartisan compromise, and for the President to not aggressively put forward policies and rhetoric that reinforce the idea that our biggest problem at this time is the deficit and debt, as opposed to the ten friggin’ percent of the country who is unemployed.

      I mean, maybe the policy proposals and rhetoric coming out of the White House and from Reid are simply negotiating ploys. I dunno. But that’s starting to look less and less likely.

      • Walt says:

        Yes they do. a) They can threaten the Constitutional option, unless the Republicans cave. b) Obama can make clear that if the debt ceiling is hit, Congress has granted him the power to decide what gets funded and what doesn’t, so if he wants to fuck the Republican priorities by not funding him, he can.

        • DrDick says:

          That would require balls and principles, neither of which Obama has given any evidence of having.

        • Murc says:

          A) is an empty threat, though, and Republicans KNOW it’s an empty threat.

          B) is regarded by the Tea Caucus as a FEATURE, not a bug, although frankly I wouldn’t mind it if he whipped it out anyway. So I was perhaps wrong when I said ‘no’ leverage. Very little leverage, then. I stand corrected.

          • JRoth says:

            What makes it an empty threat, other than Obama’s pusillanimity? If Obama directs Geithner to follow the Constitution, there is literally nothing that Congressional Republicans can do to stop him. They can impeach him for it, but A. they’d fail, and B. that still wouldn’t stop it having been done.

            • Murc says:

              It’s an empty threat because he’d be directing Geithner to VIOLATE the Constitution, rather than follow it?

              Only Congress can authorize the issuance of new debt, period. And they explicitly authorized a certain amount of it. The Treasury Department CAN’T ISSUE more than Congress says they can. That’s pretty clear-cut. Anything Geithner issued wouldn’t be valid, would likely not be bought on favorable terms anyway (would you pay AAA rates for debt that might be found to be invalid after a court case?) and would be, you know, illegal.

              What Obama CAN do is order Geithner to take money away from whatever non-debt appropriations have been made (which only have statutory force) to service the debt (servicing the debt has a Constitutional imprimature.) I really think that just saying ‘fuck Article I, Section 8, I’m issuing more debt anyway’ is flatly unconstitutional, and from what I’ve been reading the legal community has a consensus on this.

              • mpowell says:

                There is a different option which people are unaware of because they don’t know how our monetary system works.

                The fed can just continue making payments on behalf of the government without issuing new debt to cover it. Normally these payments are sterilized by the process of selling debt. So just skip the second step. It would basically just be QE3.

                • Walt says:

                  Can they legally do this? This is the first I’ve heard of this. Do you have a link?

                  (Note that this isn’t a question about the monetary system, so if you’re just making the MMT argument, then I don’t believe it until there’s some evidence that the Fed is legally able to do this.)

              • JRoth says:

                Congress authorized the debt when they authorized the spending. The debt ceiling is a legislative creation, not a Constitutional one – it never existed until the last ~40 years. So unless the SecTreas was violating the Constitution constantly for 190 years, I don’t see the debt ceiling as Constitutionally privileged.

                • Murc says:

                  Er… I’m curious as to your rationale on that one, JRoth. (Not snark; I genuinely am.)

                  I’d like to know where you got that 40 year number, for starters. It’s closer to 90. Prior to World War I, the Treasury didn’t have authority to issue debt on its own recognizance. Literally every single debt issuance was authroized independently by Congress as a seperate piece of legislation or, at most, as a single debt issuance bundled in related issues (like, say, funding the Civil War.)

                  During WWI, treasury was all ‘We’ll need to issue a lot of debt and it will need to be of a lot of different but similar kinds. Do you really want to authorize each issuance seperately?’ And Congress decided no, they did not. So they set a borrowing limit and told Treasury to go nuts, under that limit. thus the debt ceiling.

                  There has never, EVER been a SecTrea that issued debt on behalf of the United States government without explicit Congressional authorization to do so. Ever. Article I, Section 8 is REALLY CLEAR on that. Only Congress, through the Treasury Department (that it created, and controls) may issue debt. I legitimately wonder where you got the idea that Treasury Secretaries were going around issuing debt without restraint until Congress put a ceiling over them. Absent specific legislation, the ceiling is ZERO debt.

                  And to say that Congress authorized the debt when they authorized the spending… its an argument, I suppose, but I know that I wouldn’t want to make it in court.

          • JRoth says:

            Aside from that, even if we accept that Obama has limited leverage now – and we shouldn’t – that doesn’t mean that Obama didn’t have limited leverage in the past. It was his own political calculation not to deal with the debt ceiling in December, when he had majorities in both houses. Because he brilliantly determined that it would be better for him, politically, if a Republican House voted to increase the ceiling – a vote, incidentally, that no voter who isn’t crazy gives a crap about or remembers 24 hours after it happens.

            • Murc says:

              That I agree with wholeheartedly, except for the fact that given the craziness last December (well, it seemed crazy at the time, given what we have now it was god-damn flowers and ponies) he should have done it LAST summer. Not seeing debt shenanigans coming was somewhat shortsighted.

          • Walt says:

            How is “a” an empty threat? “a” is a lot less of an empty threat than the Republicans saying “hey, let’s default on the debt and send the world economy into chaos”, and yet we’re all taking that threat seriously. He shouldn’t just threaten it — he should plan to do it. If he’s going to ignore legal advice over Libya, I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it here.

            For “b”, he just has to announce a schedule by when he’s going to stop funding stuff, like “August 2nd, all farm subsidy programs stop, October 5th, we stop funding the FBI”, etc.

            He also has the platinum coin seigniorage option.

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      “How is he going to magically get the Republicans to vote on a clean bill?”

      They ALREADY offered a clean bill, and Obama rejected it.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43725919/ns/politics-capitol_hill/

      Obama dearly wants to cut Social Security and Medicare, so a clean bill wouldn’t help him.

      • JRoth says:

        All too true.

      • Ted says:

        People keep claiming that Obama rejected that deal, but I’m having trouble finding evidence of it. It seems to me that the reason that deal hasn’t passed is because Republicans in the House don’t like it, and they’re the real sticking point, not Republicans in the Senate. Is there something I’m missing in that article that demonstrates that Obama rejected the deal?

      • Once again, “they” didn’t offer that deal. McConnell floated the idea, and the House Republicans balked.

        You can keep saying that Obama rejected the deal; it won’t become true through repetition.

    • dangermouse says:

      How is he going to magically get the Republicans to vote on a clean bill?

      Yes, the “magical” prospect of Republicans carrying out a pro-forma vote which they’ve done repeatedly under the previous President and for whom not passing a bill will be economically and electorally disastrous.

  9. LosGatosCA says:

    It’s hard to give constructive suggestions to a team that’s misplayed their hand since Day 1 of the administration. Nominating Geithner, reappointing Bernanke, Summers, Orszag. Letting Lieberman keep his chairmanship. Letting Baucus sabotage the whole health care momentum, intentionally or not. An inadequate stimulus with too many tax cuts. Not passing a budget or debt limit before the election in 2010, capitulating on the Bush tax cuts, never proposing an alternative before the election because, oh yeah, they might lose some seats.

    Obama has boxed himself into a corner through ineptitude. Poor growth and bad unemployment numbers, never got the proper attention. 2012 is pretty nearly baked in the cake already.

    It’s mind boggling the lack of urgency, the lack of economic understanding, and the paucity of political recognition on behalf of the whole team.

    A fairly sizable portion of the electorate has experienced, been threatened by, or noes someone who has experienced: 1) extended unemployment, 2) foreclosure or short sale, 3) lack of health insurance. No immediate relief for anyone on any of those issues – forget UI, people want jobs, and job growth to minimize uncertainty, provide career options, help out friends and family get jobs.

    Now, with massive unemployment becoming structural by poor public policy choices fiscally and monetarily, Obama has seen the House turn, his re-election prospects greatly diminished, and his compromising by choice when he was in a greater position of strength become a capitulation by necessity. But not at any time did jobs, income inequality, economic fairness or accountability ever assume a primary position in their decision making or priorities. 2012 could very well be a repeat of 2004 with the economy replacing the Iraq War as the main driver but in an anti-incumbency direction. Kerry wasn’t compelling enough to defeat Bush. In 2012 Obama will not be compelling enough to get a second term.

    • JRoth says:

      It’s become increasingly obvious that Obama’s supposedly impressive win over Clinton in the primary had much, much more to do with her incompetent advisors than with any real merits on the part of Obama and his team.

      Yes, his message resonated, but a lot of that message (basically every part of it except for where he talked about lusting after bipartisan solutions) turns out to have been a lie. HOPE, my ass.

      • dandelion says:

        actually it had much much more to do with the caucuses and with the superdelegates.
        Clinton won the majority of the state primaries that had actual elections with actual ballots. And at the end, only 17 pledged delegates separated the two.

        His message resonated because people didn’t bother to look behind the smoke and mirrors at his actual voting record and actual policy statements — like the ones where he said he’d expand the war in Afghanistan and put entitlements on the table.

    • dandelion says:

      What is really mind boggling is hearing that even his neoliberal advisors, such as Romer and Summers, were advocating for greater action and getting no urgency or response from Obama and his team.

      $23 trillion for bankers, and Obama tells the nation they must “eat peas.” I can’t think of anything more politically tone-deaf.

      $23 trillion for bankers, and he puts SS and Medicare on the table.

      All he had to do — all he had to do — was nothing. Let the Bush tax cuts expire in December — by doing nothing. And doing nothing is something Obama clearly excels at.

      This debt ceiling theater is ridiculous. Everyone knows Wall Street will now allow Boehner and Cantor to let the govt default — everyone knows that, and that’s why the market hasn’t tanked. Obama had a freebie there if he could have summoned up a firm chin and a firm demand for a clean debt bill.

      He’s a fool and he’s also a tool, both.

  10. Walt says:

    Where’s Joe from Lowell to explain it’s not as bad as it looks?

    • Furious Jorge says:

      Was wondering the same thing.

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      He’s marching on Congress to convince them to cut Social Security benefits and raise the Medicare eligibility age.

    • Captain Splendid says:

      Yeah, still waiting for the 11th-dimensional chess report.

    • You people are pathetic.

      This is what you have to say?

      Look, I understand that I am by far the most interesting thing on this blog, but GET A FUCKING LIFE!

      And I’m all over the thread, thanks.

      • Walt says:

        We posted these comments before you showed up.

        And get a life? From one person who comments obsessively on blogs to another person who comments obsessively on blogs? Is this like a Firefly fan mocking a Dollhouse fan? A Golden Age Flash fan mocking a Silver Age Flash fan?

        • We posted these comments before you showed up.

          Congratulations! There’s nothing pathetic at all about that. There’s nothing remotely pathetic about your first response to a political story being to babble about me; and there’s certainly nothing pathetic about treating the absence of an internet commenter from a blog for a few hours as an opportunity to high five yourselves over…what? That absence for a time?

          And get a life? From one person who comments obsessively on blogs to another person who comments obsessively on blogs?

          I’m not mocking you for commenting on blogs. I’m mocking you for what you just wrote. I’m mocking you for how much you’ve decided to let me matter to you, and for how many of you there are that have done so.

          • Walt says:

            I actually meant my original comment. I sincerely was curious to hear your explanation on how it wasn’t as bad as it looks, since at the time everyone else on the thread was as pessimistic as I was.

            But come on. You matter? Maybe to your mom. Goading you is just a leisure-time activity for us.

            • But come on. You matter? Maybe to your mom.

              Hence, all of the comments about me.

              Walt, the next time I see a comment under your name, I’m going to do what I do every time I see a comment under your name: I’m going to try to remember if you’re someone I’ve conversed with before, or if I’ve confused you with someone else.

              While I don’t even need to write anything, and you’re invoking me. Many of you, doing the same thing, over me.

              I should start my own blog. I’ve clearly got something.

        • Malaclypse says:

          A Golden Age Flash fan mocking a Silver Age Flash fan?

          Tom Baker is the only real Doctor Who. All others are pale imitations.

    • dangermouse says:

      Don’t pre-feed the troll.

  11. Joe says:

    “The 2008 race was looking close until Sarah Palin and Lehman came along.”

    Lehman?

    “He was more widely seen among Democrats and other close observers as having a strategy of starting near where he thinks the Republicans are—at the fifty-yard line—and then moving closer to their position.”

    Such a shockingly novel interpretation! “Widely seen” is a nice touch. Also “people say.”

    Since my argumentative namesake is not around, let me say that “President Pushover” has signed into law a lot of pretty good stuff. Those who don’t care include many who aren’t gay, unemployed, women etc.

    “And so the way to win those voters back is to cut Medicare and weaken the economy?”

    That’s all he plans to do, huh? Also, again, sorry if it’s annoying, but the House of Representatives isn’t just going to pass stuff if Obama is a real tough negotiator. They might be as stupid as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, but they will want something stupid in there to consent to it. Bad for us, but that’s the case.

    • Murc says:

      Lehman?

      Lehman Brothers. You know. That giant financial crisis we began, the start of which was precipitated by their house of cards collapsing?

    • JRoth says:

      What has Obama done that Hillary, or a zipped-up Jonathan Edwards, wouldn’t have?

      Among other things, it’s increasingly likely that his Rube Goldberg healthcare plan will be undone before it ever goes into full effect. In the meantime, it’s so poorly designed and managed that the number of Mainers who’ve signed up for the exchange is in the single digits.

      Bad executive, bad politician, bad party leader. Oh, and based on his treatment of Nancy Pelosi (who deserves a lot more credit for Obama’s legislative achievements than he does), probably a bit of a sexist.

      • Hogan says:

        What has Obama done that Hillary, or a zipped-up Jonathan Edwards, wouldn’t have?

        Obviously Jonathan Edwards would have either condemned the Republicans to the fiery pits of hell or swung into “Sunshine” for his first encore.

      • Joe says:

        “What has Obama done that Hillary, or a zipped-up Jonathan Edwards, wouldn’t have?”

        I don’t know. John Edwards.

        If we are pretending, since Obama annoys so many people, what would they (who couldn’t beat Obama) have done better? That is, as a whole. I doubt they would have done much better given the situation.

        Among other things, it’s increasingly likely that his Rube Goldberg healthcare plan will be undone before it ever goes into full effect.

        “His” huh? Is the “Obamacare” b.s. confusing you too? The Senate with a 164pg or so edit from the House created the plan. Obama critics (I’m talking in general here) blame him for leaving it to Congress to drag out & then also blame him for what Congress did in return. Tricky!

        With even Scalia clerk Sutton agreeing its constitutional, I’m not sure how it will be “undone.” The fact it can be tinkered (possibly in good ways) with aside.

        Also, what is so “Rube Goldberg” about it exactly, at least, vis-a-vis any other major piece of legislation, such as the Clean Air Act?

        In the meantime, it’s so poorly designed and managed that the number of Mainers who’ve signed up for the exchange is in the single digits.

        A major piece of legislation could have been better. This is novel.

        Bad executive, bad politician, bad party leader.

        Who promised you a rose garden? I don’t know what fantasy POTUS you want, but the one we have did some good stuff.

        Oh, and based on his treatment of Nancy Pelosi (who deserves a lot more credit for Obama’s legislative achievements than he does), probably a bit of a sexist.

        Sexist? Don’t know what you mean. Agree Pelosi was a great leader in the House. Would have had different things to handle some place out like the Senate or White House.

        • Walt says:

          You don’t actually have an argument, do you?

        • Bill Murray says:

          Obama critics (I’m talking in general here) blame him for leaving it to Congress to drag out & then also blame him for what Congress did in return. Tricky!

          and then Obama loyalists claim everything even possibly good that passed is because of Obama. You can’t have it both ways.

          • Joe says:

            and then Obama loyalists claim everything even possibly good that passed is because of Obama. You can’t have it both ways.

            I’m not saying this. That is, if I’m supposed to be (perish the though apparently) an “Obama loyalist.”

            I am not sure what “Obama loyalists” other (maybe) than the largely fantasy “Obamabots” people sneer at say “everything” is thanks to him.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        His “Rube Goldberg” plan was, of course, Clinton’s plan. There was only one significant point of disagreement between Obama and Clinton on health care, and he moved towards her position. The only possible difference between Clinton and Obama is that the latter’s idiot advisers may have persuaded her to give up on health care altogether, although I doubt that this would have happened.

        Nor do I think that it will be undone, but that’s another question.

        • JRoth says:

          Where did Clinton’s plan delay implementation until 2014? Where did Clinton propose a meaningless $1T over 10 year window? Where did Clinton say, “First thing, we invite in the insurance companies and promise in advance that we won’t do anything they don’t like”?

          Yes, her fundamental contraption was similar – short of Medicare for all, you’re stuck with community rating + mandates – but the parts that make it most likely to be repealed were advanced and/or aided by Obama’s process.

          Nor do I think that it will be undone

          And what odds did you have on us going this far along the road to default?

  12. David B. says:

    All well and good, but Drew’s underlying piece has literally zero reporting behind it — reports her speculation as to the views of the advisors as fact, and the speculation is informed by the preconceived conclusion that Obama is an inveterate “caver.” Maybe yes, maybe no, but the whole underlying piece is circular confirmation bias, and Krugman and now Scott reposts it as fact.

    I’d counter that Obama is trying to be the adult in the room because he’s president of the goddamn united states, not because of polling, as the one account that might amount to reporting — the convo with Waxman — demonstrates just as well as Drew’s interpretation of it.

    Funny this story was published before Boehner walked. But the fact that it still went up and confirmed the wankerish prog critique meant it trumped reality.

  13. Joe says:

    “He didn’t promise you a rose garden because he knew you’d vote for him no matter what. The rest of us played hard to get, so we got promised rose gardens.”

    Nope. Don’t think either half is true. Where was this most of us “playing hard to get” stuff, particularly after he beat Clinton? If anything, people didn’t ask enough of him.

    He was a flawed candidate who as a whole was worthy of a vote. He promised or supported some stuff (like an expanded role in Afghanistan) that I opposed. He, like all politicians, had some rosy rhetoric, but as a whole I saw no rose garden.

    This is a tough matter here. Lame putdowns aren’t going to do the trick.

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