Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Daily Strike-5/26/10-Destructive Deficit Obsession

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It seems like the Gulf oil spill is still dominating the news. Right now, they are apparently trying out the "top kill" strategy, which consists of something I don't have the capacity to understand. It's a great name though. I think President Obama's response to the spill has been less than exemplary, mostly because he hasn't kept consistent pressure on BP, he hasn't been a forceful advocate of raising the liability cap for BP, and he still insists on offshore drilling as a viable policy. But we'll save that discussion for another day.

JOBS BILL: House Democrats had to postpone consideration of a large jobs measure because of concerns from members of their own caucus. As you know, the bill contains a package of extensions to expiring tax cuts, plus extensions to unemployment and COBRA, safety net programs which have been proven to be stimulative. Conservative Democrats in the House are upset because even though part of the bill is paid for by new fees on financial transactions (which is great), much of the spending will increase the federal deficit. These deficit fears are fundamentally misguided and wrong, and it's painful to see in the Democratic party.

First of all, the best way to decrease the deficit is to get the economy moving, get people working, and get tax dollars flowing to all levels of government. We can only do that if we add demand into the economy, which this bill does. Second of all, opposing this bill is a massive political loser. People may say they care about the deficit, but concerns about the deficit really are underlying concerns about the economy and jobs. Do Democrats really think that if they allow people's unemployment benefits to expire, they'll be ok with it because the deficit went down .0001%? I don't think so.

This is a failure of leadership from every corner of the Democratic party. The President has not been forceful in explaining why we need to continue using fiscal policy to sustain our recovery. He has not publicly advocated for this bill at all. House and Senate Democrats are playing chicken with each other because they aren't sure if the other chamber will go along with whatever passes. Somebody has to show some leadership and get this bill passed before next week, when benefits will run out for millions of Americans.

As a result of the delay on this bill, there was little action on the floor of either the House or Senate today. The House just dealt with a few suspension bills, while the Senate debated a separate war funding bill. Speaking of that war funding bill, the Obama White House has sent frustratingly mixed signals as to whether they support attaching emergency funding for teachers to the bill. Yet another issue on which I think President Obama needs to show a little courage and resolve.

DADT: There haven't been any votes in Congress yet this week on whether to overturn the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. But we did get some good news today, as Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), hardly anyone's favorite progressive, came out in favor of the compromise proposal to undue the 17 year old law. His vote could be key to insuring the repeal's inclusion in this year's Defense Authorization Bill, which will hit the House floor tomorrow.

That's it for today, we'll see you again tomorrow!

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