"What we have here," he says, "is a failure" of the White House "to communicate":
Ezra Klein: The Obama administration loses the deficit -- and the spending -- argument: you can't look at this as anything less than a tremendous defeat for the Obama administration. It's not the policy itself. The freeze locks in a post-stimulus, and potentially post-jobs-bill, level of spending. It's not terribly onerous. But it's also the administration's white flag on the argument that the deficit must be understood as a health-care reform problem rather than a taxes and spending problem. This was their most audacious effort to change the way Americans think, and it didn't work. For all the effort Democrats put into building a health-care bill that cuts the deficit, a full 60 percent of Americans think (pdf) the legislation increases the deficit. Only 15 percent think it's a deficit reducer.
It's also evidence of the White House's failure to win the argument over the stimulus. The administration is smart enough to refuse specifically tying the freeze to the recession. But the freeze is entirely a function of voter concerns over the recession. And the fact that those voters think the right response is to cut government spending is evidence that the administration has not convinced them of the basic case for the stimulus, or persuasively explained the basic nature of the recession.
What we have here is a failure to communicate.
Can we please get Gene Sperling back from the Treasury and into the White House to do economic and budget message control?