Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Mickey Kaus parses Obama's statement from Monday and finds reason to believe that if pressed, he'll back down on tax increases to try to get a grand bargain...
There’s been some speculation that Obama’s veto threat, if he holds to it, makes the work of the elite deficit-reducing “supercommittee” impossible–it “guarantees that the supercommittee’s recommendations will not be approved.”  Since Republicans aren’t going to agree on raising “serious revenues” from the wealthy, the argument goes, they aren’t going to get Medicare cuts past Obama and nothing substantial will get done.

People who think this* should read the statement more closely. There is lots of room for substantial Medicare cuts that won’t trigger a veto, even if they aren’t accompanied by  revenue increases–as long as the cuts aren’t structured so clumsily as to directly cut “benefits” for the non-affluent.

That also means Obama hasn’t chosen a Trumanesque “run against Congress” strategy over a statesmanlike “grand bargain with Boehner” strategy. He’s still trying to keep both strategies in play. I suspect he still wants a grand bargain even if he gets stiffed on his tax increases on the rich. Monday’s speech looks like mostly a show to please the left.
It would be great if Obama backed down, although it might send the left into conniptions.  The proposal he rolled out was not only unrealistic for Republicans to even consider, it was effectively DOA with Senate Democrats (which is why his last budget proposal went down 97-0).
The real question is whether any of this matters.  The optics of battling Congress or posturing as a leader who got a great compromise on entitlements and the deficit is effectively irrelevant if the economy doesn't turn around.

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