Why should President Obama release a deficit cutting plan? Republicans will merely tear it to pieces.
Obama is getting pummeled for a lack of “leadership” in failing to put meat on the bones of his deficit reduction. But Republicans doth protest a little too much. I think what they really covet is something to gnash their teeth into and spit out on the Oval Office carpet.
By putting out merely a framework, Obama is keeping his proposal from becoming a stake for Republicans to lob excrement at and further polarize the discussion.
Sorry for the mixed metaphors. I get carried away.
By letting Congressional negotiators piece together their own plan, he gives them skin in the game and energizes them behind whatever emerges.
And, ladies and gentlemen, he’s taking a page out of the playbook written and conceived by George W. Bush.
I covered Bush’s policy proposals, and he rarely put out much more than “principles” for whatever government scheme his Compassionate Conservative Heart had dreamed up. This worked quite well in the case of the Medicare drug benefit, which started as a page of ideas and turned magically into a new multi-billion dollar entitlement.
For Obama, of course, this tactic also worked out nicely in the cases of Obamacare and the stimulus. He let Congress do the writing based on outline he had set forth and, lo and behold, major legislation materialized on his desk for signing.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put it correctly today:
Leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down, and likely voted down, because it is — look, you know how this town works and how Congress works. If an individual, whether a Democrat or Republic leader, steps forward and says, “This is my plan and solely my plan,” it makes it a lot harder for that plan to be the basis for a bipartisan compromise.
The way to reach a bipartisan compromise is in bipartisan negotiations, where a plan emerges that is the product of that negotiation and is supported by Republicans and Democrats and then presented. Otherwise, your chances of actually achieving something diminish greatly. And I think there is certainly plenty of history to support that idea.
Obama is working the system right, and if he gets a deficit deal, he will be able to blunt charges that he’s done nothing to reduce the deficit.
To date, those charges are correct. His policies have made the budget picture vastly worse. And his budget proposal earlier this year was a sick joke where deficit reduction is concerned, and he for weeks insisted avoid this whole deficit ceiling battle he now finds so useful in reducing the deficit.
His failure to lead has been in not pushing for major spending cuts until two and a half years into his presidency. But putting forward The Obama Plan at this point would be a distraction, not a step forward.
Anyway, if you disagree, you’ll probably enjoy this video of Charles Krauthammer taking apart Nina Totenberg. I couldn’t resist putting it up, even though it contradicts my point. She’s such a snoot – it’s hilarious to see her so unprepared.