Archive for September 8th, 2010

A Crisis Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Matt Bai has a depressing column in today’s NYT about how Obama had a golden opportunity to put a landslide victory, 70% approval rating, and a once-in-a-lifetime financial crisis to good use and completely squandered it:

That was a moment, perhaps, when Mr. Obama might have given one of his trademark orations to an anxious public, an opportunity to lay out the different dimensions of the economic crisis in a way that had eluded his predecessors. You could have imagined Mr. Obama explaining then that the country had to respond in two related but distinct ways — first by spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the short term to avoid a depression, and then by making a series of large-scale investments over time that would modernize the foundation of the economy.

What happened, instead, was this: The administration turned control of the roughly $800 billion stimulus package over to Congress. Congress decided that the most expedient thing to do was to throw every kind of expenditure one could think of, short-term and long-term, into a single bill, because the public was willing to spend the money right then and the legislative politics required addressing the demands of disparate constituencies.

Sounds a lot like Obama’s approach to healthcare reform, but without the behind-the-scenes sabotage.  But more than anything it sounds like Dubya’s approach to capturing Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, and look how well that turned out.

September 8th, 2010 at 07:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Obama

Boston Aquarium Photoblogging

I just realized that I want to hoard most of my New England Aquarium shots for my Friday Quote & _____ Blogging, but I did take some pictures of the aquarium’s creepy/cool whale skeleton…

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September 8th, 2010 at 11:26am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

Nice To Hear, But…

Officially, Obama is now taking the correct stance on the expiring Bush tax cuts:

President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.

Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that the White House might be open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.

It is not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his own diminished popularity, the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his party. But by proposing to extend the rates for the 98 percent of households with income below $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals — and insisting that federal income tax rates in 2011 go back to their pre-2001 levels for income above those cutoffs — he intends to cast the issue as a choice between supporting the middle class or giving breaks to the wealthy.

So yeah, good for him… but he said he strongly supported the public option too, and look how that turned out.

I think the question really is going to be whether he has the guts to veto a bill that extends all the Bush tax cuts if that’s what Congress gives him.  It’s awfully hard for me to imagine him winning a game of chicken with the GOP.

I would point out, by the way, that Obama never promised to veto the healthcare bill if it didn’t include a public option, and he hasn’t promised to veto the tax cut extension bill if it does include the over-$200,000 brackets.  I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

September 8th, 2010 at 09:24am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Obama,Politics,Taxes

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