Several state legislatures were inspired rather than dissuaded by the contraception debate in Washington, and are considering their own versions of the Blunt Amendment — keeping alive an issue national Republicans thought they were putting to bed. Arizona, New Hampshire, Idaho and Georgia have taken up bills to expand exemptions for contraception coverage. Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Idaho and Wyoming lawmakers are moving symbolic resolutions condemning the administration’s contraception coverage rule.
I know I’m not the first to point this out but, still, I hope that all of the so-called liberals who stayed home in November of 2010 because it just didn’t matter whether (corporatist) Democrats or (corporatist) Republicans were in charge, seriously go Cheney themselves. Then, when they’ve opened their eyes, get off their self-righteous asses and go to the fucking polls this November and vote for the Democrat. Any Democrat.
I’m afraid that TPM writer Brian Beutler’s “Biggest Challenge” piece is actually more “noise” than “touchstone” as David Kurtz calls it. It is absolutely the left-of-center CW that Obama should not have parroted GOP fiscal rhetoric, particularly on the debt. I hear it every day. It is, no doubt, true.
The trouble with the “touchstone” imprimatur is that this fact is basically irrelevant. Ask yourself if we would be materially better off if Obama had made the strong Keynesian argument early on, when only Paul Krugman and a handful of liberal economists supported such a measure. One, it would never have passed (the argument the administration made at the time about attempting a bigger initial stimulus) and two, Obama would have been way out in left field with no policy success to show for it.
Would the public be better educated about macroeconomic theory? If practically the entire global field of professional economics – from Chicago to Berlin – still doesn’t get it, I see no reason to believe that such a campaign would have educated John Q. Public to any great extent.
Obama’s problem isn’t that the public is confused about deficits or the stimulative effects of short-term deficit spending (they actually understand quite well that the government should be focusing on jobs and economic growth before deficits and debt, even Republicans), Obama’s problem is that he’s being blamed to a certain extent for the current economic conditions.
Obama’s rhetorical failure was not coming out of the bi-partisan box when the new Republican House was sworn in and calling on John Boehner to pass a jobs bill every single day since then, putting the responsibility and blame squarely where they belong. His bi-partisan Kabuki has worked wonders on the likes of Chris Matthews and David Frum but it has left the public deeply confused about who is to blame for not fixing our economic malaise.
Obama’s “biggest challenge” isn’t that he failed to differentiate saltwater from freshwater economics, it’s that he failed to differentiate the Democratic brand. That’s what too much fake bi-partisanship will do for you. In this case, not making it clear who is to blame.
Swampland’s Adam Sorenson points out the obvious about the Obama Administration’s desire to put the latest bank fraud problem behind them: “The Obama administration wants these issued settled quickly and cleanly.”
I’ll bet. They obviously decided from TARP going forward that they needed to protect the banks to protect the economy. Right or wrong (hopefully, we’ll never have to test the alternative – bankruptcy/restructuring of the banking system), they paid a huge political price for it.
But this is different. A thorough investigation of the banks, forcing them to prove ownership before bankruptcy or even to write down principles isn’t likely to cause economic Armageddon (perhaps, quite the opposite if we can mitigate the current foreclosure crisis). But if they protect the banks from their illegal and immoral practices on these matters, I think Obama seals his fate as a one-term president (may god help us all).
And this is another important decision that could help decide the 2012 presidential re-election.
These aren’t the public option, don’t ask, don’t tell or Guantanimo, where Obama had to show deference to others and nominal supporters were left to defend him by pointing out that he may have had little choice in the matter. He controls these policy decisions, practically unilaterally. And these are both critical issues for liberals and, accordingly, represent major campaign promises; to reform corporatist Washington (as if) and to take on global warming. Even if liberals don’t matter much in the political calculation – too small, too reliable – there are plenty of swing voters who are concerned about global warming and plenty more who are infuriated with what the banks – and the banksters – have gotten away with.
Ultimately, Obama will decide what they, and the fossil fuel industry, get away with this time. And, at the same time, whether his previous coalition of Democrats and Independent swing voters will let him keep his job.