Political Animal


August 02, 2011 2:15 PM POTUS looks pasts debt deal, eyes growth

By Steve Benen

Within a few minutes of the Senate approving the debt-ceiling agreement and sending it to the White House, President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden for about eight minutes. Here’s the video:

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What I found interesting about the remarks was the subject matter. I expected Obama to take some time to defend the deal, and point to what he sees as its strengths. And the president did note some of the reasons he accepted the terms of the agreement, while also stressing the need for a “balanced approach” and “fairness” as the process continues to the next step.

But Obama more or less brushed past all of this, and quickly focused on “what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth.” It was rather reassuring to hear the president note the disconnect between the Washington establishment’s priorities and the priorities of everyone else.

“While Washington has been absorbed in this debate about deficits, people across the country are asking what we can do to help the father looking for work. What are we going to do for the single mom who’s seen her hours cut back at the hospital? What are we going to do to make it easier for businesses to put up that ‘now hiring’ sign?

“That’s part of the reason that people are so frustrated with what’s been going on in this town. In the last few months, the economy has already had to absorb an earthquake in Japan, the economic headwinds coming from Europe, the Arab Spring and the [rise] in oil prices — all of which have been very challenging for the recovery.

“But these are things we couldn’t control. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands. It’s pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling — for both businesses and consumers — has been unsettling, and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need. And it was something that we could have avoided entirely.”

Obama proceeded to look ahead, touting “bipartisan, common-sense steps” that will “make a difference,” including an extension of the payroll tax cut, an extension of unemployment benefits, patent reform, trade deals, and most notably infrastructure investments. As he put it, “We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding; an infrastructure bank would help us put them together.”

I agree with just about all of this, and it’s reassuring to see the president keep his eyes on the real prize.

There are, however, a few nagging concerns. First, we’ve heard about “pivots” to job creation before, but these efforts have been knocked off track, in part because Republicans’ priorities lie elsewhere. Second, and on a related note, by endorsing these economy-improving measures out loud, Obama has probably guaranteed their fate — the congressional GOP opposes whatever the White House is for. In this case, Republican opposition will undermine the economy, but by all indications, GOP officials don’t consider this much of a downside.

And third, truth be told, even if Congress were to approve all of the measure Obama mentioned, we’re still talking about a limited economic agenda. It will help, but the impact will be modest.

We need a bolder and more ambitious approach, which became impossible with Americans’ votes in November 2010.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:19 PM:

    This is all talk,Steve. What will he do when the GOP kills his infrastructure bill? Tell people to call Congress, as if that works? This only works when a GOP President tells people to call the Democratic representatives in red or purple districts. The Republicans dont give a shit about people calling them. They just voted to eliminate Medicare. They dont give a shit. As long as the media has its back in the form of "both sides", it will do whatever it wants w/o repercussions. Sorry to bum you out.

  • CDW on August 02, 2011 2:19 PM:

    Oh, goody. Some more bipartisan common sense. I was so hoping he would say that.

  • troglodyte on August 02, 2011 2:19 PM:

    You cant run the country by perpetually playing toddler psychology with the Repubs. At some point you have to clarify the choices available to the American people. If the Repubs say no just 'cause the Pres is in favor of them, well, the American people can maybe, just maybe, see the difference between the parties. If all the Repubs can think of is high-income tax cuts, its not going to play terribly well.

  • TCinLA on August 02, 2011 2:22 PM:

    Obama proceeded to look ahead, touting “bipartisan, common-sense steps” that will “make a difference,” including an extension of the payroll tax cut, an extension of unemployment benefits, patent reform, trade deals, and most notably infrastructure investments. As he put it, “We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding; an infrastructure bank would help us put them together.”

    If President Neville Chamberlain thinks for one millionth of a second that there is the of his getting even one of these things through the Congress, he is delusional. Now that they know they can roll him, nothing he is in favor of is even going to get out of committee in the House between now and January 2013.

    And when he wonders why that is, all he has to do is go in the Executive Bathroom at the White House and look in the mirror.

    Anyone who thinks he will accomplish anything now probably thinks the sun rises in the west.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:22 PM:

    Until Obama says the GOP are preventing people from getting jobs until the next election, the GOP will keep on doing what it wants. Obama has to fight and learn how to use the word "Republicans". I know he is all bipartisan and stuff, but things will never change until he plays hardball.

  • TCinLA on August 02, 2011 2:24 PM:

    f President Neville Chamberlain thinks for one millionth of a second that there is the slightest chance of his getting even one of these things through the Congress, he is delusional.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:25 PM:

    Brian Williams on MSNBC: both sides.

  • c u n d gulag on August 02, 2011 2:27 PM:

    I hate to keep beating a dead horse -
    but there is NO INCENTIVE for the Republicans to do anything to help the ecomony until they are in power and can take the credit for it - whether that's 2013, 2015, or 2017.

    None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Notta.

    Also too, Mr. President, can you put blame where it belongs?
    It's THE REPUBLICANS, and not Washington.
    Stop saying that.

    You' really NOT helping.

    Can't you message, either?
    Jesus H. Keeeerist.

  • bdop4 on August 02, 2011 2:29 PM:

    "Obama proceeded to look ahead, touting 'bipartisan, common-sense steps' that will 'make a difference,' including an extension of the payroll tax cut, an extension of unemployment benefits, patent reform, trade deals, and most notably infrastructure investments. As he put it, 'We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding; an infrastructure bank would help us put them together.'"

    After having fixed himself firmly to the Deficit Reduction Bandwagon, how is he going to pay for it?

    With regard to the "infrastructure bank," how does this work? Are they government loans (in which case again, how does he pay for it), or private loans (in which case, are we again giving banks free money so they can turn around and charge us interest)?

    "[T]ruth be told, even if Congress were to approve all of the measure Obama mentioned, we’re still talking about a limited economic agenda. It will help, but the impact will be modest.

    We need a bolder and more ambitious approach, which became impossible with Americans’ votes in November 2010."

    No shit, Sherlock.

    This is the problem a lot of Dems had with all this deficit reduction cheerleading by Dem leadership.

    It's going to be very difficult to pivot to job creation when you just passed a huge spending cuts bill. Even if most of the cuts are backloaded, there's going to be little cash availabe to pay for effective jobs programs.

  • Kevin Ray on August 02, 2011 2:30 PM:

    Real pretty words.

  • August on August 02, 2011 2:32 PM:

    Crazy Idea: when POTUS signals a goddam pivot, how about the progressive movement quit it's emo navel-gazing and butthurt("he should have said it was the Republicans!" from above for instance) and ACTUALLY TAKE THE GODDAMNED SIGNAL AND START PUSHING CONGRESS FOR SOME REAL LEGISLATION.


    This rant brought to you by the letter Emo.

  • martin on August 02, 2011 2:33 PM:

    It wasn't a "Washington" generated crisis, it was a Republican generated crisis that the Pres and the Dems enabled.

    I really don't want to hear anymore from Obama until he can say "F**K the Repubs and the Tea Party they rode in on."

  • burro on August 02, 2011 2:35 PM:

    My concern is that POTUS can look as far away, and as far around as he wants, and it doesn't matter what he see's, or what he say's he see's out there. repubco just got this brand new toy, ya see, and they just had a really fantastic time playing with it, and they still don't really have a handle on all of it's possibilities. But they are going to be looking into that. And if there's a way to have even more fun than they have ever had before with their new toy, they are going to love showing it off to it's very fullest potential.

    I think the vision thing just took a hit.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:37 PM:

    c u n d gulag wins another prize:

    "Also too, Mr. President, can you put blame where it belongs?
    It's THE REPUBLICANS, and not Washington.
    Stop saying that."

    This is the one thing beyond the capitulation that drive me crazy. He is incapable of uttering the word Republican, except to call them reasonable. Why shouldn't the media say both sides when the leader of the Democratic party says Washington. If I was in that meeting where they lit into Biden, I would say the only way that I would vote for the Satanic shit sandwich is if he promises to never used the words "Washington" and "we"

  • ameshall on August 02, 2011 2:40 PM:

    There is nothing this President can do to create jobs. Nothing. The GOP will oppose anything he proposes, and the only thing the GOP believes in--tax cuts--will have no impact on job creation. The only choice Obama and the Democrats have is to start aggressively attacking the GOP (LOL) for failing to offer even one job-growth bill and for opposing infrastructure improvements that are desperately needed and also create jobs. Given the Democrats' failure to defend its stimulus in the past, this is going to be a very tough sell. As the polling on the new debt deal makes clear, the GOP has convinced the public that cutting government spending spurs economic growth and creates jobs.

  • c u n d gulag on August 02, 2011 2:40 PM:

    Ok August,
    Prove how great you are!

    Call your Republican House member and tell him/her you want a jobs package and push Congress for some real legislation. Chop-chop!

    Do tell how that works out in detail.

    I've been calling my Teahadist Congresswoman since January, and I'm convinced the only fucking people stupider than her in my district, are the ones answering her phones.

    So, I'll follow your lead, ok, tough guy?

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:43 PM:

    August, really? IF the president had fought for anything, he would have some people on his side instead of bitching. Even congressional Democrats are bitching about the president. If this forum was teabagger, and we had a teabagger president,then I see your point. Because they got everything they wanted (except destroying the govt). But why do you expect liberals to be fired up over the teabagger's win? If liberals could point to one thing that they got out of this deal, then I could see your point. But even moderate dems hate this deal. August, your name is not David Plouffe is it?

  • zeitgeist on August 02, 2011 2:47 PM:

    August, I'm not sure you get the whole elections thing. It isn't just about left wing fee-fees, as you seem to think; its about outcomes.

    The only cure for what ails the process is for 2012 to undo what happened in 2010. But most voters are low information voters who don't understand to the degree political junkies who read political blogs do what Republicans have actually been up to, and how it differs from historical precedent.

    It is hard enough to get over the hurdle of the MSM saying "both sides do it" and providign a false equivilence. But Obama is the one Democrat that can actually break through and be heard occasionally by low information voters, and when he does he triangulates and feeds the "both sides do it" belief rather than using the megaphone that comes with the office to help educate the public as to why it is so important to make better choices this election.

    The real irony is that who he is hurting most (relatively speaking) is the House Democratic Caucus, who had a shot at taking back the House; running against them may be good, selfish politics for 2012 for Obama, but substantially hinders his ability to get anything useful done if re-elected.

    So no, expecting Obama to be reality-based in his description of the problem rather than using the overly broad (and passive) "Washington did it" is not a tantrum. It is political reality. You don't appear to have much grasp of how political messaging works, or why for 30 years we've gotten our asses kicked at it.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:47 PM:

    This is what Obama's team think is going to happen:

    Mark Mellman: “Whatever qualms or questions they may
    have about this policy or that policy, at the end of the day the one
    thing they’re absolutely certain of — they’re going to hate these Republican
    candidates,” Mr. Mellman said. “So I’m not honestly all that worried about a
    solid or enthusiastic base.”

    I am voting for Obama, but still WTF Obama. Please use republican in a sentence w/o using reasonable as an adjective. Is that too much to ask?

  • bdop4 on August 02, 2011 2:51 PM:

    August is seriously unhinged. Take your meds before you hurt yourself.

    I would bet that everyone on this thread calls their congresscritters at least once a week. I called mine yesterday.

  • Perspecticus on August 02, 2011 2:52 PM:

    Yeah, well, we'll see when we see, won't we? File me under "incredulous". I can see no avenue for even an actual (as opposed to rhetorical) push by Obama and/or dem Dems to pass any meaningfully useful jobs legislation or anything else, for that matter. Oh my how I hope I am wrong, but I'm just about hoped out. And while it is still sooooooooooo long away, I am currently anticipating that the votes I make in November of 2012 will be cast based on the fleeting chance that things may not get worse, as opposed to any belief that things will get better.

  • Roddy McCorley on August 02, 2011 2:56 PM:

    Two thoughts...

    Our economy didn�t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands.

    "Washington" did not manufacture this crisis. The Republican Party did. Period. This is what infuriates me about Obama - he buys into the nonsense that both parties are equally responsible for our current mess. They are not. Democrats are complicit, of course, but in large part that is because they are willing to pretend that their opposition is still a political party instead of a deranged cult.

    �bipartisan, common-sense steps�

    In our current political climate, that is an oxymoron.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 2:57 PM:

    No hope No change.

  • kc on August 02, 2011 2:58 PM:

    We need a bolder and more ambitious approach, which became impossible with Americans’ votes in November 2010.

    We had a Democratic president and Dem. majorities in the House and the Senate before November 2010, and look what we got - a weak-ass stimulus bill and GOP "health care reform."

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 3:00 PM:

    All I want is for Obama to play hardball once. Even if he loses I can respect that.

  • Josef K on August 02, 2011 3:01 PM:

    I think we've finally hit the point where "bipartisan" has become a four-letter word. Its been reduced to a fetish, rather than a goal.

  • sparky on August 02, 2011 3:01 PM:

    Anyone who doubts the wisdom of paying the republican ransom demands need look no further than today's stock market, already down about 175. How's that for growth? Can you imagine how much it would have dropped if that had been a couple of trillion in stimulus instead of job killing cuts??

  • Stetson Kennedy on August 02, 2011 3:02 PM:

    ...including an extension of the payroll tax cut...

    Ugh, if this an example of the economic policy Obama wants to follow, I'd rather he do nothing at all. Lack of demand is the root of th eunemployment problem, not that payroll taxes are too high.

    In a normal environment, I wouldn't care - no harm, no foul - but there is potential harm in any long-term payroll tax cut. It will result in SS running at a deficit, giving the catfood commission all the ammo they need to slash it. If RepubliCONS were smart, they'd be all over this.

  • Neurologically Disordered on August 02, 2011 3:04 PM:

    Both economic conditions and policy decisions significantly worsened the debt outlook since 2001, when large surpluses were forecast for the following decade by the CBO. The Pew Center reported in April 2011 the cause of a $12.7 trillion shift in the debt situation, from a 2001 CBO forecast of $2.3 trillion cumulative surplus by 2011 versus the estimated $10.4 trillion public debt in 2011. The major drivers were:
    -Revenue declines due to two recessions, separate from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003: 28%
    -Defense spending increases: 15%
    -Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003: 13%
    -Increases in net interest: 11%
    -Other non-defense spending: 10%
    -Other tax cuts: 8%
    -Obama Stimulus: 6%
    -Medicare Part D: 2%
    -Other reasons: 7%[2]
    Source, The Big Picture(.com)

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 3:05 PM:

    Why do they even bother taking polls if they are to be ignored:

    A majority of Americans disapprove of the deal struck Sunday by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders that will raise the country's legal borrowing limit, and three out of four believe elected officials have acted like "spoiled children."

  • Mitch on August 02, 2011 3:06 PM:


    You don't know anyone on this board personally. So please do not pretend that you know what people are, or are not, doing to aid the Progressive cause. Please.

    All caps doesn't help. Your 'emotional response' does not help. Calling us assholes certainly does not help.

    We are frustrated beyond reason, and we have good reason to be this way.

    When we had the majority of Congress and Obama in the White House we still gave the Reblicans nearly everything that they wanted.

    Two examples: Health Care reform was, quite literally, taken from the '90s Republican playbook. Obama's stance on National Security/The Patriot Act/Gitmo is pretty much identical to Bush-the-fascist-pig.

    Now in this debate we began by giving them exactly what they asked for. How does that work for negotiation? How is that an effective strategy?

    Even when poll after poll showed that the American people (even Republican people) were on our side of the argument, we did not try to make things any less than what the Tea Party extremists demanded.

    By proving himself to be a weak negotiator, Obama has crippled his Presidency and his only hope is that we win Congress next year. Even then, as 2009-2010 showed, we have no guarantee (and precious little hope) that Obama and the D's will pass any progressive legislation.

    He doesn't have to win every fight, but by God, at least fight. Even now, after all of this, he speaks of the Repugs as if they were reasonable, honorable opponents.

    They are not. They are bullies, and when they smell weakness, they do nothing but become more aggressive.

    So why should we maintain hope? Why should we support a party that frankly seems to be no different that the Republicans? It is the Parties responsibility to serve us, not the other way around.


    Now, that being said, I will vote D across the board next year, as always (not that it matters, all of my Congresspeople are D's, and that's not going to change given my location). . . but I will do it while choking down my bile. But ONLY because it is the lesser of two evils.

    I've been waiting for Obama and the D's to prove me wrong for a long time, now. They have not. Maybe one day they will, but I honestly don't believe it.

    If that makes me an asshole, then so be it.

  • CDW on August 02, 2011 3:12 PM:

    martin says: "It wasn't a "Washington" generated crisis, it was a Republican generated crisis that the Pres and the Dems enabled."

    That pretty much includes all of Washington. The irritating thing about it is that Obama thinks he can somehow set himself apart from it when, in fact, he is smack dab in the middle of it.

    captcha: longus, randshol - That's commentary on the jr. senator from KY, I feel sure, and it can't be good if it's captcha saying it.

  • citizen_pain on August 02, 2011 3:13 PM:

    This guy's incomprehensible commitment to 'fairness' and 'balance' is borderline pathological.

    As I've stated repeatedly, if he'd used his position of power early on at the beginning of his presidency, we would never arrived to this point.

    If he'd have made the bankers face consequences, the tea party may never has existed, at least in it's current form.

    If he's fought for a larger stimulus the economy would have been better, we would have more jobs, and the tea party may not have taken over the house in 2010.

    Call him what you will, place the blame wherever you wish, but the bottom line is his efforts at bi-partisanship have been as big a strategic blunder as France's Maginot Line in 1940.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 3:13 PM:

    I think Obama is at fault not the dems. At one point Mitch threw up the white flag, and said he could have a clean debt ceiling that need 2/3rds to stop it as long as he voted for it 3 times and cause some mild embarrassment for the president. Did Obama take the victory? No, he kept trying to push the "Grand Bargain".

  • Archon on August 02, 2011 3:17 PM:

    I gotta give Obama credit in one sense. That man is disciplined in continuing to pretend Republicans are operating in good faith, and are (chuckle) open to bipartisan solutions to produce job growth.

    I admit though, that political strategy of insulting smart peoples intelligence and acting like Republicans want to contribute in any meaningful way is wearing thin, even with an "Obamabot" like me.

  • Danny Gail McElrath on August 02, 2011 3:18 PM:

    I have gotten about Obama like I was about Dubya. I can't stand to look at him or listen to him. And it makes me ill for him to spout a bunch of stuff after what he has done and act like we should all just open our mouths like little birds and swallow it.

  • AK Liberal on August 02, 2011 3:21 PM:

    Okay here's an outcome.

    "The GOP came out of this looking unreasonable--I've been getting E-mail messages from friends saying they are back with the Democrats because the Tea Party is "destroying this country." Nate Silver tweeted last week that local conservative talk radio in Kansas was filled with callers attacking the Tea Party! The Wall Street Journal ran two editorials which called the GOP delusional and "childish." The vaunted GOP message discipline broke down--I read stories all over the "inside baseball" papers here in DC where GOP House members went on the record after the Friday vote wondering out loud if the party had been damaged! I don't know if you noticed, but John Boehner spent last week negotiating with himself. No new proposals came out from the Dem side, but he produced two proposals, one of which he had to pull after he didn't have votes. A congressional Dem staffer told me his dad, an urban Catholic who voted for Nixon over Kennedy and has always voted Republican suddenly thinks the GOP is out to lunch and supports the President."

    I'm not saying that this has not been ugly, but I suspect most fights are and it isn't always apparent who's winning until it's over. My priorities are preserving SS and Medicare and discrediting movement conservatism. Until movement conservatism is a political dead letter, we won't make much progress on the rest of the agenda.

    I think we might have made some progress on that. And, no I don't think that the President calling out the cons really helps as it feeds the MSM "he said, she said" game. The electorate needs to see this for themselves. Unfortunately, that probably means we're in for some unavoidable pain.

  • bigtuna on August 02, 2011 3:22 PM:

    BFD. nice words. They would have been a hell of a lot more meaningful had they been uttered ... oh, I dunno - 6 mos. ago? If this had been the position of dems and the prez. + no hostages, rather than " oh what bipartisan bullshit we can do" song.

  • nemisten on August 02, 2011 3:23 PM:

    august - FYI, I've given $ to the Pres and numerous Progressive causes, called my Congressional Rep and Senator many times, written endless emails, yada, yada, yada. We HAVE worked our butts off, only to have the rug pulled out from us repeatedly, AND IT'S F*K INFURIATING.

    I'll hold my nose and continue to work for taking back the House, holding the Senate, and getting Obama re-elected (if that's the least of evils). But I reserve my right and duty to call BS exactly what it is.

  • Chris on August 02, 2011 3:23 PM:

    Payroll tax cuts and trade deals to create jobs? That's weak tea, to be sure.

    Steve's right. By endorsing any idea, Obama has sealed their fate. So why not fight for the big stuff and create pressure for Republicans to propose an alternative, like a payroll tax credit, and then say yes? Either that, or give us something to fight for in the election so that Obama could get reelected with a mandate?

    Note to President Obama: No progressive is going to run to the polls to support payroll tax cuts and trade agreements.

  • Live Free or Die on August 02, 2011 3:30 PM:

    "I'm not saying that this has not been ugly, but I suspect most fights are and it isn't always apparent who's winning until it's over"

    The teabaggers won. You seem to forget that the teabaggers are in districts that dems have no They handcuffed the president for half his first term. After the 527s runs negative ads and the media keeps saying both sides, then the public will forget, like they always do. Meanwhile repubs keep on getting their legislation passed by a Democratic president. After this vote, he has no margin of error with me. But then he starts with this bipartisan bs again as if he has not learned a thing.

  • ckelly on August 02, 2011 3:36 PM:

    Oooh yes August, let me run right out and call my Congressmen. Lemme see, John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and Smokey Joe Barton. Yeah, that'll fix 'em. And I won't vote for them either. Next, I'll be bashing my head against the fucking wall.

    And looking for a primary challenger for Obama.

  • Ray Waldren on August 02, 2011 3:42 PM:

    So the POTUS thinks creating & finding jobs for Americans should be Job One. Let's hope he doesn't do a Boehner!

  • JEA on August 02, 2011 3:58 PM:

    If Obama wants to have ANY chance at being reelected, he needs to be proposing jobs programs early and often - like every week often - regardless of whether they pass or not.

    The GOP will block them all. But at least Obama can stand up next year and say "I tried eight ways from Sunday to create jobs, but every time I tried the GOP blocked me because they don't care about jobs for you."

    Otherwise he's doomed.

  • Michael on August 02, 2011 4:10 PM:

    Ok, yes, he hasn't been bashing heads, but just how far can you get if you cant even SHOW bipartisanship?
    Yes, he needs to bash heads now to election, but in order to govern, you need SOME republican votes.Now that they are unmasked, it won't be that difficult. But they need elections too, and cumulative results of what they have done is going to take its toll now, People are more aware.
    I think we are in for some real repig bashing for a bit, tho obama can't take the lead, he must show that he is above that to the people, but deftly be able to twist the knife.

  • exlibra on August 02, 2011 4:25 PM:

    I think we've finally hit the point where "bipartisan" has become a four-letter word. -- Josef K, @3:01 PM

    Not four-letter; four-syllable. Both dirty and elitist.

    Craptcha dares me to type in 10-to-the-power-of-eight, followed by ddiated. While correct (yes, we've been diddled to the tune of a huge number), it's not something I'm capable of doing with my limited 'puter skills, so I'll try for something else. "ovitedi Residual". Maybe, but, on the whole, I think not.

  • PEA on August 02, 2011 4:32 PM:

    JEA: I think that is possibly his strategy here -- to run for re-election by proposing ideas for creating jobs that "reasonable" (old fashioned) Rs might have agreed to, watch the ideas die, and then run on that. I just don't see him running on any real Progressive vision, however. I fear his job ideas will just be more R-lite and ineffectual. After all that's happened, I don't believe he has a Progressive vision on the inside -- and that creates a prob I'm not so sure the Prez truly appreciates: Progressives are very split about supporting him further if he continues to beat up and/or ignore our vision of a decent future for our country. Not to mention that historical evidence supports our policy ideas, and we really DO need actual job creation to start happening now, not in a couple of years. I try to be patient, read between the lines he says, give credit for having to cope with the T(errorist) party. But this whole hope and change thing is starting to feel like Waiting for Godot. I am horrified at the thought of a future with R prez,congress and supremes, but jeez I wish we had a better alternative than what I've seen so far from O.

  • neil b on August 02, 2011 4:50 PM:

    It is not true Obama and crew always capitulated and gave away everything. They stood up to Boehner's two-stage crap, and forced something more to their liking and the national interest. Always remember, they had to save the nation from disaster while getting something passed.

    Having the debt commission means an opportunity for someone there to pound on needed revenues too. So that's the new battleground and thing to watch: make sure they don't appoint worms to the commission. Pressure Reid, since he said "compromisers", to ensure some pro-revenue appointments.

    BTW, those rating agencies are agitating to downgrade us anyway for not cutting enough debt. That (combined with their deceptive covering for private big boys) smells like a rat, they are pushing the IMF style austerity on us, and is it even their business to consider other than "trustworthiness" and expectation of payment?

  • Goldilocks on August 02, 2011 5:02 PM:

    Everything is impermanent. What goes up must come down (space explorers excepted - except they will eventually come down somewhere). America's had its fling. The party's over. What do you expect Obama to do, round up those pesky Repugs and throw them in jail? Would be nice, but not strictly legal.

  • Jjm on August 02, 2011 5:28 PM:

    I tend to think the public will cover the GOP with shame for this despicable conduct.

    They may be grateful that Obama wants to try to run the ship in a normal steady way.

    Mainly though, he may have taken the lesson of Clinton to heart. When Clinton confronted the GOP strongly with government shutdowns, etc., the GOP essentially shut down whatever good might have come from that administration, and forced a lot of ruinous legislation through.

    Maybe the Dems will survive this looking like the party of sanity that is on the side of the people. One can hope...

  • sparky on August 02, 2011 5:35 PM:

    That belt tightening is doing its job. The DOW is down 265 today. McConnel is going to get that double dip recession that he wants for 2012. The only remaining question is who'll get credit for it. Let's not hold our breaths waiting for the 'liberal' media to put the blame in the right place.

  • Jimo on August 02, 2011 5:39 PM:

    Growth! Why didn't anyone else think of that?

    The fact is Obama has traded away all the policies that might have lead to growth: investment in infrastructure, research, education, getting the unemployed back to working.

    An imaginative President would have traded even deeper long-term cuts in spending levels (after growth, spending levels will naturally decline anyway - "yeah, let's spend less on unemployment once unemployment fades away!") in return for immediate investment. Instead, he's endorsed a slow decline to bankruptcy and pins his entire re-election on hopes that the GOP nominates a bat shit crazy candidate like Bachmann or Cain.

    An imaginative President might even have traded actual cuts to Medicare down the road -- and then promptly made increasing taxes to restore Medicare from a heartless GOP the core of his re-election campaign. Hmmm...let's let the voters decide that one.

    An imaginative President might have proposed trading away permanently all federal payroll taxes (as a means to encourage hiring and employment) to be made up from carbon taxes (as a means of pushing environmental goals).

    Etc. I don't know if these would have gone anywhere. I doubt it but then again if you fight for things sometimes you win. And if you fight for things, even if you lose, you reveal to the portion of the public not obsessed with politics, 'who is who' between the two Parties.

    Instead, we have a Reagan Democrat in the White House pursuing policies of "hope" and "change" that might as well have been put forward by a President Bob Dole, who after all was a decent enough fellow who probably would have been a minimally competent President. Just like the current White House occupant. (So inspiring!)

  • JM917 on August 02, 2011 6:47 PM:

    Obama's--and the House and Senate Dems'--reelection campaign begins with this signing statement.

    Having been forced into accepting this deal by a combination of a bad political hand to begin with (= the 2010 elections) and a well-meaning but naive negotiating strategy (= assuming that "our Republican friends" were negotiating in good faith and with the nation's interests at heart), Obama and the Congressional Dems have managed to escape the worst possible outcomes--that is, either default or a total capitulation.

    And now, having got through the worst, it's time to rally and capitalize on our strengths. These include the public's frequently expressed support for taxing the very rich and it's refusal to accept drastic cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Nor did the TP/Republicans win any popularity contest in the ugly (and, most ordinary people agree, unnecessary and crazy) struggle that we've just been through.

    From now on out, Obama and Congressional Dems must *name the enemy*: The Republicans. *The Republicans* were the ones who ginned up this crisis, they were the ones willing to court default and the tarnishing of the good faith and credit of the United States of America. *They* were the ones who wanted to rip the safety net to shreds for the sake of preserving *every* tax break and *every* bit of the scandalously low rates that the upper 2% of Americans receive. *They* represent the top 2% who are hogging more and more of the national wealth, while ordinary Americans have to live hand-to-mouth off their credit cards, see their real wages shrinking, and suffer the loss not only of secure jobs but also of hope for the future.

    Name the damned Republicans who want this state of affairs to continue! Denounce Grover Norquist, the Club for Growth, Fox News, and the rest of that noise machine as betrayers of the American dream.

    Go ahead, take of the gloves (and this includes you, BHO!) and start getting a little demagogic.

    BHO, specifically you should admit that you are bitterly disappointed to see the failure of your dream of "changing the debate"--instead, you can see that your political oppenents are NOT acting in good faith, and that they need to be DEFEATED POLITICALLY, not reasoned with in hopes they will reciprocate.

    Keep up this offensive from now through November 2012. Welcome their hatred, as FDR did. Denounce "the malefactors of great wealth," as TR did. Get the public's attention--quit being nice--know that the American people are frightened and confused and that they want a leader, not a conciliator-in-chief.

    If--as I fully expect--the "Supercongress" that's supposed to recommend the Round II cuts deadlocks, then accept that verdict. The cuts that ensue won't last more than a year, and make THAT the argument for asking voters to throw out these scoundrels and fools in November 2012. (And to make sure that Round II deadlocks, put tough liberals on the board, not conciliators like Warner and Conrad.)

    Above all, remind the public that repealing the Bush tax cuts is going to come at the end of 2012, and that you intend to make that repeal permanent. Getting rid of those obscene giveaways to the rich, not nickling and diming over "tax reform," is the way to start rolling back the deficit.

    And remind the voters that until we get some stimulus pumped into the economy, and until we start making it very unprofitable (from a corporate-tax perspective) for corporations to continue exporting American jobs, there is not going to be any significant economic growth.

    Therefore don't be afraid to accuse the Republicans of economic sabotage--of deliberately preventing a recovery so that unemployment will be high in November 2012 and the Dems get defeated. Never for a minute stop reiterating McConnell's boast that he intends to make you a one-term president--that's what drives everything else he does.

    In short, Mr. President and Congressional Dems: FIGHT LIKE HARRY TRUMAN from now on out. Let 'em demonize you (they will anyway)! Brand the enemy.

    And, my fellow liberals, stop pissing--the deal is done, and the time for recriminations is over. The enemy is out there, and needs to be attacked root and branch.

  • Doug on August 02, 2011 8:57 PM:

    You folks just don't get it, do you?
    It's Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, NOT
    Barack Obama, President of the Democratic Party.
    There's a BIG difference, in case you hadn't noticed.
    You want a President who's only President of his party, then vote Republican. If you want a President who tries to look out for the interests of ALL his constituents, I'd suggest you look at the present occupant of the White House.
    As for any jobs programs getting through the present Congress, especially the House, I won't be holding my breath. One thing that MIGHT change the situation is if the markets continue to decline and unemployment increases. I don't think even TPers would be dumb enough to vote against programs to assist the unemployed, perhaps even expanding infrastructure programs.
    Because the unemployed DO vote. Something about having lots of spare time...

  • jjm on August 02, 2011 10:23 PM:

    Only silver lining: polls are starting to show that the debt ceiling fight has American voters blaming the tea party.

    With reason.

  • neil b on August 02, 2011 10:56 PM:

  • yellowdog on August 03, 2011 4:07 AM:

    Most Republicans have traditionally supported free-trade deals--but that was the pre-radical GOP. Obama has these deals with S. Korea and Panama ready to go, including trade adjustment assistance, which the GOP considers welfare. The impact on jobs will be modest, but the deals help jobs over the long-term and they keep us from going backward competitively, in light of S. Korea's deal with the EU. U.S. exports stand to rise. U.S. business wants this deal, and the GOP is standing in the way, for fear of giving Obama a victory. Again, whatever Obama achieves in office, he has to do over GOP intransigence--whether it's on nuclear weapons, the budget, court nominations, or trade agreements.

    Contrary to many previous posters, I don't think Obama has any doubts or misconceptions about what or whom he is dealing with. He knows the GOP hates him. However, the U.S. Constitution was drawn up to make the President something less than a monarch--quite a bit less. He has no choice but to work with Congress.

    When Obama poked holes in the Ryan Plan and declared it indefensible, he nearly made Ryan cry. (Boehner cries all the time.) When he went to the GOP policy meeting, he showed them all up as idiots. When Boehner backed out of talks on the debt limit, Obama was clear about what it meant--and he asked the public to go to the phones to express their displeasure. They did.

    He has been straight with the public about what he's doing and what the choices are. The problem is, Congressional Republicans do not answer to majority opinion or to presidential persuasion. They answer to the hard right wing of their own party and the people who fund it.

    Even in a blood-red district, Progressives can do helpful things. Go through the list of big contributors to your TP-backed Member of Congress and start shining a light on them. Ask those folks why they contributed. Get them in the open. Ask them if they got what they wanted. This Congress is far out of step with majority opinion. That has to come back on them at the local level, eventually.