Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Time For Obama to Hammer the GOP

The U.S. economy, while still slowly recovering from the economic disaster put into play under the regime of Bush/Cheney could be much better than it is at present and as it will be if sequestration kicks in at the end of the month.  But one political party has relentlessly done everything possible to trash the economy since the height of the economic melt down in 2008.  That's right, it is the Republican Party which has followed a consistent policy of economic sabotage starting with its refusal to back an adequate stimulus package in 2008 to its current drive to allow sequestration to rack the economy and perhaps leave over a million Americans jobless.  The GOP goal?  First to dampen the economy so that Barack Obama could not win re-election.  That gambit failed, so now the goal is to trash the economy so blame will fall on Obama.  It the State of the Union Message tomorrow, Obama needs to wield a 4x4 and beat the hell out of the GOP and make the clear case to the Americans of how the GOP is harming average Americans - all for misguided partisan games.  A column in The Daily Beast lays out more on this issue.  Here are excerpts:

The cuts are scheduled to happen, as I’m sure you know, on March 1. Reductions in the amount of $1.2 trillion over the next decade—$500 billion to defense and $700 billion to domestic programs—would start kicking in on that day. The cuts will be paced as if to play out over a decade, but even so, they’re deep. There will be furloughs, maybe some layoffs, some programs discontinued or put on hiatus.

The Republicans’ position right now is to let this happen, or at least to act like they’re completely ready to let this happen.  .  .  .  . So that’s the strategy. If you’ve heard one Republican say this over the last few days, you’ve heard a dozen: We’re done with taxes. He got his taxes at the New Year. No more.

The danger for Obama here is that to people who don’t know the history of this situation, which is obviously most people, that might sound reasonable. No more tax hikes. The public supported the tax increases in the fiscal cliff deal, and public opinion about taxes is definitely more liberal than it was a few years back, but we can hardly be sure that the public’s appetite for tax increases is infinite.

Given all that, it seems to me that Obama needs to say two things clearly and forcefully. First, history didn’t begin with the fiscal cliff deal. During his time in office, he’s agreed to two big budget cuts and a few smaller ones, totaling around $1.8 trillion. He’s pushed for and gotten revenue of about $600 billion. So that’s three-to-one, cuts over revenues. The score, in other words, is 1.8 trillion to 600 billion. The Republicans are trying to pretend that the score is 600 billion to zero. Job number one is not letting them get away with that.
Job number two is that he should propose some specific revenue measures. The White House has been cagey about this, and I don’t understand why. It plays into Republican hands, because they can just say anything they please about his intentions. He should be specific about what he has in mind—whether it’s lowering the corporate rate but eliminating some loopholes or whatever, tonight is the time to spell it out.
Now, when he does that, and it raises revenues, the Republicans are going to yell, “But tax reform is supposed to be revenue neutral!” Who says so?

Last time, in the fiscal cliff deal, the public was clearly with Obama. The big question here is: Will they be this time? I think so. I think most people don’t want the kinds of cuts to domestic programs that the Republicans are for. So I think most people will back Obama’s position, provided he gives them the context and provided it’s clear to them what his position is.
One thing Obama has working in his favor is that it’s the Republicans who appear willing to burn the house down. When people are looking for someone to blame for a fire, their suspicions are likely to gravitate toward the people who’ve been walking around for three years carrying a jug of gasoline and a book of matches. Most Americans know who that is.

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