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  1. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    15 Feb '11 04:22
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/02/14/obama.budget.response/index.html?hpt=C1

    The plan wasn't even officially out before the criticism started rolling in.

    President Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion budget was slammed by the left and the right Monday. Outraged liberals called it a callous assault on the poor; dismissive conservatives labeled it a debt-riddled assault on future generations.

    Which raises the question: Is Obama's budget blueprint exactly what the president needs to capture the broad political center in the runup to 2012?

    The president's fiscal year 2012 budget would cut deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade, according to White House estimates. Two-thirds of the deficit cuts would come from spending reductions; a third would come from tax hikes.

    The plan includes a five-year freeze on nonsecurity discretionary spending. Some programs, such as low-income heating assistance, would face the budget knife. New limits would be placed on deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

    But the most expensive and politically popular programs -- including Medicare and Social Security -- would remain largely untouched, against the recommendations of Obama's own deficit reduction commission.

    While it trims annual deficits, the president's budget would still add $7.2 trillion to the nation's publicly held debt by 2021.

    "Every cut to necessary programs ... needs to be judged in the context of the unnecessary tax cuts for Wall Street millionaires that passed at the end of last year," the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a statement, referring to Obama's deal extending the Bush-era tax cuts for two more years.

    "We must make bigger investments in America's future starting now -- and ask the Wall Street millionaires who got us into this mess to do more to help pay for it."

    The committee counts hundreds of 2008 Obama campaign staffers among its members.

    Obama "says that he wants to work with us to begin reining in spending, but ... (his budget goes) in exactly the opposite direction," said New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett, a top House Budget Committee Republican. "Today is Valentine's Day, but I don't know if this is the card that America was hoping to get from the administration. It's a card that says you owe more to the federal government."

    The president's proposed cuts are not nearly deep enough, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, told CNN's "American Morning." His planned "reduction is insignificant and does not get us off on the right course. We are facing a fiscal crisis."

    Obama responded by characterizing the plan as a successful balance of sorely needed new investments and long-term spending reductions.

    "While it's absolutely essential to live within our means ... we can't sacrifice our future in the process," he told reporters while touting some targeted new education spending. "We have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future" while "demanding accountability."

    The president called his plan a "down payment" on greater long-term fiscal responsibility.

    Top congressional Democrats rallied to Obama's side. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, called the president's plan a "tough love budget" that "strikes the right balance."

    Van Hollen said it stands in "stark contrast" to the "blind budget slashing" of House Republicans, who have proposed cutting more than $60 billion from spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

    Are there echoes in Obama's maneuvering of former President Bill Clinton's shift to the political center after Republicans captured Congress in 1994? Clinton famously declared an end to "the era of big government" while launching a high-profile defense of popular spending on Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment, among other things.

    Clinton's so-called triangulation -- taking credit for the most popular aspects of each party's agenda -- helped to position him between Democratic liberals and Republican conservatives heading into the 1996 campaign.

    Safely ensconced in the political center and bolstered by a strengthening economy, he rolled to an easy re-election.

    One difference between Clinton in 1995 and Obama in 2011 is that "Clinton sacrificed his agenda-setting powers to engage in triangulation -- looking responsive more than proactive," said Wendy Schiller, a Brown University political science professor.

    Obama "needed to present a tough budget, and depending on how it's managed, the larger the Democratic outcry over it, the more credible he will seem to the fiscally concerned independent voters that are key to his re-election in 2012," she said. The risk for Obama, Schiller said, is angering his party's base voters "so much that they stay home in 2012."

    Schiller also warned of a backlash against Republicans calling for deeper cuts. There may be a large number of voters "who did not realize how much they needed federal spending until it was taken away from their communities," she said. "Not only will that help Obama in 2012, it may do damage to the longer-term Republican goal of shrinking the size and scope of the federal government."

    As for the unwillingness of either party to address Social Security and Medicare, Schiller said the day could come "when they will squeeze out almost all other domestic federal spending. Obama and the Republicans just hope to delay that day of reckoning as long as possible."

    "The glaring omission of any significant entitlement reforms ... does not help to advance the conversation," added Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Budget.

    "Republicans have set up a major confrontation on immediate domestic spending cuts, which are irrelevant to the deficit and debt problem," said Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "The president has engaged them at that level now. Grappling with (entitlement spending in) the medium and long term will have to await an altered political environment."

    That may be fine with most voters.

    According to a January 21-23 CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, more than seven in 10 Americans say they back an agenda to reduce the size of government. A majority believe it's very important for the president and Congress to deal with the deficit.

    But roughly 80 percent of Americans would rather prevent significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security than reduce the deficit. Overwhelming majorities also shy away from cuts in education, veterans' benefits, infrastructure spending or aid to the unemployed.

    So cut, but not too much. And steer clear of the most popular programs.

    On paper, at least, the broader electorate appears to be embracing positions fairly closely in line with an administration now gearing up for a tough re-election fight.


    ____________________

    Does the fact that nobody seems happy about the budget proposition necessarily mean it's the best means of compromise? Does it mean it's the best course of action? Most importantly, does it mean it stands any chance of passing a split Congress?
  2. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    15 Feb '11 04:35
    Here's a follow-up link with a few more specifics.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/02/14/obama.budget.highlights/index.html
  3. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    15 Feb '11 04:35 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/02/14/obama.budget.response/index.html?hpt=C1

    The plan wasn't even officially out before the criticism started rolling in.

    President Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion budget was slammed by the left and the right Monday. Outraged liberals called it a callous assault on the poor; dismissive conservatives labeled it a d ng a split Congress?
    You say "nobody happy". Does this include moderates, centre-right, centre-left, other centrists, 'neutrals', swing voters, and people who do not identify themselves as either "liberals" or "conservatives"?
  4. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    15 Feb '11 04:40
    Originally posted by FMF
    You say "nobody happy". Does this include moderates, centre-right, centre-left, other centrists, 'neutrals', swing voters, and people who do not identify themselves as either "liberals" or "conservatives"?
    I guess that assumes that such a "centrist" would indeed find the proposal moderate in his own opinion, too. But otherwise I see your point. Still, though, centrists alone probably won't get the bill passed, wouldn't you agree? What's your take on that?
  5. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    15 Feb '11 04:46
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    I guess that assumes that such a "centrist" would indeed find the proposal moderate in his own opinion, too. But otherwise I see your point. Still, though, centrists alone probably won't get the bill passed, wouldn't you agree? What's your take on that?
    Well we're just gazing up at the moment at what Chomsky and Herman called "flak". But I think framing it as "nobody happy", as you did in you OP and thread title, makes it sound like the prospects for Obama in 2012 would be ominous. If you were to frame exactly the same moment in political horse racing as "Obama's enemies [on both sides] unhappy" then it makes it sound like the prospects for Obama in 2012 would be promising.
  6. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    15 Feb '11 05:14
    Originally posted by FMF
    Well we're just gazing up at the moment at what Chomsky and Herman called "flak". But I think framing it as "nobody happy", as you did in you OP and thread title, makes it sound like the prospects for Obama in 2012 would be ominous. If you were to frame exactly the same moment in political horse racing as "Obama's enemies [on both sides] unhappy" then it makes it sound like the prospects for Obama in 2012 would be promising.
    I see what you're saying, but I wasn't really concerned about Obama's 2012 prospects. Besides, I think compromise is essential, especially considering that we have a split Congress. In fact I would say, that if Obama's budget compromise passes, he will appear to be the facilitator of said budget and will actually improve in image.

    But I'm thinking shorter term, I suppose: clearly both sides will want to save face, even if they realize that compromise is necessary, too. I guess it's all another game of "chicken"?

    More than anything I'm thinking out loud. Or at least, online.
  7. Subscriber kmax87
    You've got Kevin
    15 Feb '11 10:15
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    In fact I would say, that if Obama's budget compromise passes, he will appear to be the facilitator of said budget and will actually improve in image.

    But I'm thinking shorter term, I suppose: clearly both sides will want to save face, even if they realize that compromise is necessary, too. I guess it's all another game of "chicken"?
    I think you are on to something. Obama is rebuilding himself as a pragmatist. He was roundly criticized for going soft on the upper reaches of the Bush tax cuts, but the only consequence of that seems to be that he's gaining momentum as a President that can get Congress to work and get things done. There might not be enough substance to that observation to convince everyone as yet, but I do believe that in the context of style and overall achievement, posterity will judge him very well.
  8. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    15 Feb '11 11:08
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/02/14/obama.budget.response/index.html?hpt=C1

    [i]The plan wasn't even officially out before the criticism started rolling in.

    President Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion budget was slammed by the left and the right Monday. Outraged liberals called it a callous assault on the poor; dismissive conservatives labeled it a d ...[text shortened]... ng a split Congress?
    Like most budgets, it will emerge from Congress in a very different form. We'll just have to see how the house and senate rework it. The fact that both sides are offended by this budget, may be a good thing!
  9. 16 Feb '11 02:23 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    I wasn't really concerned about Obama's 2012 prospects. .
    I find that hard to believe, but one thing is certain, Obama is concerned about reelection.

    Why else do you think he is proposing "cuts"? The man has the largest deficit spending in history coupled by the largest debt in history.

    In a way, he is between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he does not want to cut anything, so that people will vote for him, and on the other hand, wishes to please the overall mood in the country that the federal government is fiscally out of control. Heck, even Obama said the current course is not sustainable.

    So there you have it. You make a few scant cuts, which will cause people to scream that they will now be dying in the streets no matter what they are, and at the same time have a nice one liner come election time with something to the effect that he has take steps to lower the deficit. So even though he had to upset a few people he limited the cuts to about 90 billion a year which will limit the people who are mad at him. Really it's a win/win for the President in terms of his reelection hopes. That is, for those who are happy with only a 90 billion per year cut with trillions of dollars a year in deficits to boot and him getting reelected. Are you one of these people?
  10. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    16 Feb '11 02:33
    Originally posted by whodey
    I find that hard to believe, but one thing is certain, Obama is concerned about reelection.

    Why else do you think he is proposing "cuts"? The man has the largest deficit spending in history coupled by the largest debt in history.

    In a way, he is between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he does not want to cut anything, so that people will ...[text shortened]... f dollars a year in deficits to boot and him getting reelected. Are you one of these people?
    We're still waiting for your $1 trillion spending cuts or increased taxes per year proposal.
  11. 16 Feb '11 02:42
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    We're still waiting for your $1 trillion spending cuts or increased taxes per year proposal.
    I said I DON"T CARE!! For all I care, take 10-15% away from every aspect of government spending. All that matters is that they balace the books at this point.

    Or do you disagree? Do you think that a mere $90 billion in cuts a year with the current spending is sustainable?
  12. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    16 Feb '11 02:46
    Originally posted by whodey
    I said I DON"T CARE!! For all I care, take 10-15% away from every aspect of government spending. All that matters is that they balace the books at this point.

    Or do you disagree? Do you think that a mere $90 billion in cuts a year with the current spending is sustainable?
    I already made my proposal. Balancing the budget this year is unrealistic given the economic situation. Drastic cuts in social spending and investments would only make the economy worse which is what the Republicans actually desire at this point.
  13. 16 Feb '11 02:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    I already made my proposal. Balancing the budget this year is unrealistic given the economic situation. Drastic cuts in social spending and investments would only make the economy worse which is what the Republicans actually desire at this point.
    So your happy with the presidents proposal, or do you think he should have gone farther?

    Also, at what point do you become nervous in terms of debt and deficits? Or does it ever matter? If so, when? If not, why?
  14. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    16 Feb '11 03:06
    Originally posted by whodey
    I find that hard to believe.
    I already acknowledged the dynamic of Obama's reelection. Yes, it exists. But I think the more interesting dynamic is the idea that out of such polar disagreement might come a compromise that will at the least be the best short-term solution, even if not the best long-term solution. Are you really so cynical as to think the only reason Obama would strike a balance is for political purposes? Surely you of all people haven't forgotten that Republicans control the House now?
  15. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    16 Feb '11 03:07
    Originally posted by whodey
    So your happy with the presidents proposal, or do you think he should have gone farther?

    Also, at what point do you become nervous in terms of debt and deficits? Or does it ever matter? If so, when? If not, why?
    You're an imbecile. The President's proposals bear little resemblance to my own as you are perfectly aware.

    The #1 problem in the country isn't the deficit or the debt. It is the amount of un and under employed economic capacity. Until we put America back to productive work and stop subsidizing unproductive financial speculation, we won't have a chance for the type of sustained balanced economic growth that would lead to a decrease or eventual elimination of deficit spending.