James Fallows on Why Keeping America's Future Bright Requires the Rapid Electoral Destruction of Today's Republican Party
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Washington Post Edition

If Pundits Like Friedman Were Paying Attention, They Might Notice That Obama Has Proposed Exactly The Sort Of Policies They Endorse

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps--or at least a Tom Friedman-free op-ed page?

Jonathan Cohn:

If Pundits Like Friedman Were Paying Attention, They Might Notice That Obama Has Proposed Exactly The Sort Of Policies They Endorse | The New Republic: I may be a card-carrying member of the liberal blogging guild, but I'm not a Tom Friedman hater.... But Wednesday’s column was one of those that drove even me bonkers. And it’s not because the column as a whole was awful. It actually wove together some disparate ideas into an interesting thesis. The problem was the last paragraph....

That’s when he reprised some familiar advice for President Obama:

If I were President Obama, I’d focus my entire campaign now on an effort to reforge a “grand bargain” with Republicans based on a near-term infrastructure stimulus tied with a Simpson-Bowles long-term fiscal rebalancing. At a minimum, it would show that Obama has a sensible plan to fix the economy—which is what people want most from the president—and many in business would surely support it. We cannot wait until January to do serious policy making again. [italics in original]

What’s wrong with advising Obama to promote a balanced approach of stimulus and Simpson-Bowles style deficit reduction? Nothing at all.... Obama’s employment proposal, the American Jobs Act, calls for a burst of new spending on public works, aid to the states, and targeted tax breaks—precisely the kind of measures that, according to the majority of mainstream economists, would boost growth while bolstering the country’s infrastructure. Obama’s latest budget proposal calls for higher taxes on the wealthy and a variety of cuts to federal spending. According to Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that proposal make “significant progress in reducing deficits”—enough to stabilize deficits at less than 3 percent of gross domestic product within a decade.

You can legitimately criticize either proposal. The deficit reduction proposal isn't enough to address the government’s long-term fiscal imbalance; Simpson-Bowles would, in fact, do more. But a major reason Simpson-Bowles would cut more is that it would raise more revenue. And the primary obstacle to raising more revenue right now isn’t Obama and the Democrats. It’s the Republicans....

Obama has taken up the approach Friedman recommends, the Republicans have made clear they want nothing to do with it, so Friedman has decided the party that needs to change its behavior is... Obama....

Obama has been talking up his "balanced approach" to deficit reduction for months. It's a major theme of his campaign. Here, for example, is an excerpt from Obama's most recent public speech, from his joint appearance with Bill Clinton on Tuesday night:

We can afford to rebuild our roads and our bridges and our airports and our broadband lines and high-speed rail, and putting people back to work. We can afford -- in fact, we can't afford not to invest in the science and research that's going to keep us at the cutting-edge.... We’re going to responsibly reduce this deficit. You know -- two Presidents over the last 30 years that have actually reduced the pace of the growth in government spending happen to be on this stage right here. They happen to be the two Democrats....

You can go through the White House website and find literally dozens of excerpts like these. The problem is that nobody seems to have noticed them—a problem that, you might think, a prominent New York Times columnist could help fix.

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