White House blames lib groups for deficit deal debacle at secret meeting

If only the President had a bully pulpit with which to get his message out across the land…

From Ben Smith, who confirmed it from two sources, we learn that at last night’s “Common Purpose” meeting, a regular (supposed to be secret) get together between the White House and progressive advocacy groups (where the White House routinely yells at them, I hear), the groups got an earful about the President’s new deficit deal he reached with Republican Speaker John Boehner:

Yesterday, [White House National Economic Council Director Gene] Sperling faced a series of questions about the White House’s concessions on the debt ceiling fight, and its inability to move in the directions of new taxes or revenues. Progressive consultant Mike Lux, the sources said, summed up the liberal concern, producing what a participant described as an “extremely defensive” response from Sperling.

Sperling, a person involved said, pointed his finger backed at liberal groups, which he said hadn’t done enough to highlight what he saw as the positive side of the debt package — a message that didn’t go over well with participants.

That sounds oddly familiar. In fact, it’s the same admonishment a group of liberal bloggers received from then- vice presidential economic adviser Jared Bernstein on the one-year anniversary of the stimulus. I attended that meeting and wrote at the time, back in February of 2010:

I guess what struck me as most interesting about the meeting were two things. First, when Bernstein noted that, in trying to solve the country’s economic problems, the administration faces “budget constraints and political constraints.” By that, I took Bernstein to mean that the stimulus could only be so large last time, and we can only spend so much more money this time, because we’re facing a huge deficit, so there’s not much money to spend, and because the Hill and public opinion won’t let us spend more.

That struck me as GOP talking points winning the day, and I said so (Professor Kyle wrote about this very notion the other day on the blog). The only reason we’re facing a budget constraint is because we gave in on the political constraint. We permitted Republicans to spin the first stimulus as an abysmal failure, when in fact it created or saved up to 2m jobs. Since Democrats didn’t adequately defend the stimulus, and didn’t sufficiently paint the deficit as the Republicans’ doing, we now are not “politically” permitted to have a larger stimulus because the fiscal constraint has become more important than economic recovery.

And whose fault is that?

Apparently ours.

Bernstein said that the progressive blogs (perhaps he said progressive media in general) haven’t done enough over the past year to tell the positive side of the stimulus.

I remember Bernstein specifically asking the Nation’s Chris Hayes whether he and his paper had done enough to help promote the benefits of the stimulus over the proceeding year. Chris said that they had just done a podcast about it that day, but yes he probably could have done more. I recall jumping in and noting that Chris was the last person Berstein should criticize, as he’s on Rachel Maddow every night defending the administration quite diligently.

In any case, this isn’t a coincidence. They actually believe, inside the White House, that we’re to blame for their problems. That they’re doing a chipper job and the public would know it, but for the Netroots and the liberal advocacy groups doing such a lousy job selling the President’s magnificent handiwork.

Things aren’t getting better because the administration doesn’t even recognize that they are – that their boss is – the problem.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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