The President will be giving a speech this week detailing his plan for long-term deficit reduction. Here is Steve Benen’s take (keep in mind when reading this that Bene, I think it’s fair to say, has often been more charitable to the President’s policy choices than have we):
Once Democrats commit to systematic debt reduction as policymakers’ principal goal — as opposed to, say, economic growth — it sets the terms of the debate. The unyielding dynamic locks everyone into answering the same question: how do we tackle the deficit and the debt?
That’s the question Republicans (and much of the media) want as the central focus, but there are more pertinent and important questions that should be prioritized, such as, “How about a jobs plan to reduce unemployment?” Or maybe, “How will taking money out of the economy and reducing public investment lead to more growth?”
What’s more, it also sets baselines for a “compromise.” If Obama presents a credible vision for long-term debt reduction this week, we’ll have one pillar, which will serve as a counterweight to Paul Ryan’s radical House budget plan presented a few days ago. But a moderate counterweight may not be wise — if recent history is any guide, negotiations will produce a deal that’s somewhere between them.
In this case, that’d be a disaster. Even half-way to Ryan’s roadmap would destroy much of the modern American social compact, and prove devastating to the middle class.
Assuming that congressional Republicans are interested in a sincere, good-faith discussion about fiscal responsibility is folly. If this week’s presidential speech simply presents a sensible answer to a dubious question, without regard for the larger political dynamic, the White House will be making a serious mistake.
What more is there to say. I want to see CBO’s score for the budget deal, and their score for whatever the President proposes this week, specifically in terms of what impact they will have economic growth and jobs. The concern many have is that the President seems to have jumped on the deficit bandwagon of convenience, completely forgetting his number one job – to save the economy.
I’ll say it again. The GOP would love nothing less than to gut the recovery heading into the presidential election of 2012. Why the President seems interested in helping them do this is a mystery. The man saved this country from a second Depression, and seems almost embarrassed to remind people of that fact. That’s why we’re all talking about how “bad” the deficit is, because POTUS seems downright afraid to explain to the American people that the deficit is better than the Great Depression, Part II.