Monday, November 2, 2009

The Big Picture with the Strike: Where Obama has gone wrong

As we begin to commemorate the one-year anniversary of one of the more momentous events in American history - Barack Obama's victory - we discussed today some of the major problems Obama is having, and how his own politically motivated decisions contributed heavily to these problems. The spur was Paul Krugman's excellent column,, on how the stimulus has been very effective, but that it was too small - as he (and we) were saying back when it was being proposed in January. 

The Big Picture:
What a great column from Krugman, and he gets credit for being right from the beginning, as he is so often. I read that article where Romer said we needed $1.3 trillion to be a truly effective stimulus, and Summers and Emanuel were like "No, can't be more than $700 billion". So stupid and ideological. And of course the Ideological Centrists to blame. I would say that the three biggest errors of Obama's Presidency have come from making "sounds good" promises that had bad long-term consequences: the first being his campaign promise that Afghanistan was the war we should be focusing our resources on, the second being keeping the stimulus at $700 billion rather than saying it needed to be $700 billion A YEAR, and third the health care bill automatic limit at $900 billion. Now of course I understand why he did these things, and maybe all of them were necessary to achieve any success at all, but these were not cost-free, and I wonder if he really thought through the consequences. Now we're probably going to get stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan, have a jobless recovery that really damages Democrats' popularity, and a health care bill that doesn't cover enough people and make it affordable enough and therefore may cause political problems. This is kinda like something my dad often does when he's picking us up: he'll call to say that he's "5 minutes away", which in the moment makes us not annoyed, but it turns out he's really 15 minutes away, so by the time he does get there we've stopped what we were doing, are outside waiting for him, and now are much more annoyed than we would be if he had just been honest in the first place.

The Strike:

Couldn’t agree more about these mistakes, although the House seems to have found a way to keep the bill under $900 billion without cutting subsidies. They did it by putting more people in Medicaid, which is less costly that subsidizing private insurance. Shouldn’t that be a MESSAGE??

But yeah, caving to those arbitrary numbers on the stimulus was catastrophic politically. Republicans were gonna criticize it to death no matter what was in it, so you might as well make it effective. Now, it has the stigma of a big government, deficit-busting bill, AND it is not adequately helping the jobs situation. The worst possible scenario.

And of course on Afghanistan, continuning the Kerry logic that if you are dovish on one war, you  have to prove that you are hawkish on another.

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