Who’s at the table

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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174 Responses

  1. David Cheatham says:

    I figured all this out at the end of health care reform, when somehow the public option just vanished.

    Guys, we have a textbook ‘center-right, sane Republican’ as president. Of course, instead of having to negotiate to the left, he’s having to negotiate to the right.

    Anyone who conflates the health of the economy with the debt is just utterly insane. There is no correlation there at all.

    We _know_ what caused this economic situation, and it was nothing at all to do with the debt, and if the debt magically vanished tomorrow, it wouldn’t fix a thing.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to David Cheatham says:

      We don’t have a public option because Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman didn’t want one. You can attack Obama for a lot of failings, but the truth is, we have a center-right Senate thanks to the filibuster and a centrist President.Report

      • Chris in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        It’s not like Obama fought for a public option. I mean, I understand your point, but still, if he wanted a public option, he could have at least made the case for one. Particularly since the mandate doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without it.Report

      • Jesse,

        I agree with Chris. The President’s leadership was non-existent during the HCR debate. If he had any balls he would have fought harder. At least Bill and Hillary were willing to be bold. It took Hillary a decade to climb out of that hole but even I, as a Republican, grudgingly respect her willingness to not back down.Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          I’d say Obama’s movements in the HCR fight were informed by the Clinton’s decisions back in ’93. Clinton put down a marker, Congress said fine, we won’t pass shit. Obama stayed largely out of the way aside from putting down certain ‘big picture’ ideas. He got the most progressive legislation since Nixon passed. It’s a bill. It’s a bill that can be improved. No Democratic candidate can win a primary in 2016 without supporting a public option.

          Again, no matter how hard Obama would’ve fought and cajoled, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman weren’t going to vote for cloture for a bill with a public option.Report

          • I think it’s a bit disappointing that someone who swept into office with so much momentum and goodwill behind them is afraid to put their position on major policy out there because they think it will sink the ship.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              He put his preferred policy out there. He just couldn’t get it done because Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman have no allegiance to him. In a world with a 50-vote Senate that we had until the early 2000’s, a public option would’ve _maybe_ passed.

              Hell, if we had put the public option to a public vote, it probably would’ve passed. However, thankfully, we’re not a direct democracy.Report

              • Jesse,

                Or he could have taken the long game and been honest about hsi intentions and fought hard. If his position made sense that might have helped him in the midterms and in gaining more seats next year int he senate and then Nelson and Lieberman could have been ignored. Instead he played it safe, the publis soured on HCR and Dems have lost their opportunity completely.Report

              • Koz in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                What lost opportunity? It looks to me like they won. They got their economy-killing quasi-universal coverage Jerry-Nadler-sized behemoth and successfully inflicted it on the rest of us unless we get some help from the judiciary.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Um, we’ve already seen what happens when Democrats fail spectacularly to pass a health care bill. Speaker Gingrich remembers it as well.

                Also, his position made total sense. In fact, every poll shows majority support for the provisions of the health care bill (aside from the mandate), but against the actual health care bill.

                Now, you can agree or disagree with the tactics taken by the Obama White House throughout the first half of his term, but at the end of the day, the choice was simple. Pass a bill and lose seats or don’t pass a bill and lose even more seats thanks to liberal disillusionment. I’m happy Obama and Congress chose door number one instead of having to wait another twenty years for a stab at it.Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “Um, we’ve already seen what happens when Democrats fail spectacularly to pass a health care bill. Speaker Gingrich remembers it as well. “

                What happens exactly? The economy rallies? The Demo’s lose seats in Congress? What’s the downside?Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                The economy rallied because of the dotcom boom, the bipartisan deal Bush the Senior made (that conservatives hated) and the tax increase Clinton pushed (that conservatives said would lead to ruin and destruction).Report

              • Obama and Clinton were disasters for the Democratic Party, blowing the congressional majorities they inherited.

                Various explanations are they were “too liberal,” “not liberal enough,” “it was the moderates in the Democratic Party’s fault,” and of course the old standby, “it’s the GOP’s fault.”

                Mostly it’s an incoherent stew of all the above. Whatever gets you through the night… 😉Report

              • Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I will not be the first person to bring up 2006… I will not be the first person to bring up 2006… I will not be the first person to bring up 2006…Report

              • Go ahead, JB. The GOP had it coming, and took it like adults.Report

              • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Yeah, the Chanson de Roland business might not work. I don’t fear for the Republicans’ political future. I fear that by the time we figure out we need ’em it’ll be too late.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to tom van dyke says:

                It’s good to see that filibustering more in one year than the entire first half of the 20th century is ‘taking it like an adult’ these days.Report

              • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I don’t know where 2006 fits into this, and for that matter it’s not exactly clear where Jay stands on the debt ceiling.

                But, I do recall it wasn’t so long ago that he wrote here that the GOP was gonna fold, ie they couldn’t be trusted on fiscal issues ‘cuz they were going raise the debt ceiling like a bunch of libs (I’m sure 2006 fits in there somewhere.) In any case, it didn’t turn out that way. So, maybe actually Jaybird supports the GOP now, but I still have my doubts.

                There’s a policy path by which it’s very likely that will be able to keep the basic economic structure of civilization in America. In the current political environment, that path is politically represented by the GOP. Anybody who wants to be associated with that path has to earn the Republicans’ trust.

                The Demo’s haven’t earned that trust. They have shown that their spending discipline is weak. If somehow that’s changed now, they need to earn the Republicans’ trust to show it. If it hasn’t, they have to be comprehensively defeated or we might as well stiff our Treasury creditors anyway.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I don’t know where 2006 fits into this, and for that matter it’s not exactly clear where Jay stands on the debt ceiling.

                If you did not exist, we would have to invent you.

                A response to a comment discussing the loss of congressional majorities that Presidents inherited, you say that you don’t know what 2006 has to do with anything.

                How, in God’s Name, could you *NOT* understand what 2006 has to do with anything with the topic of Presidents blowing inherited congressional majorities?

                I could understand a small child not knowing what 2006 would have to do with that. Why, a small child would be ignorant of history.

                I could understand a stupid person not understanding what 2006 would have to do with that. One of the markers of intelligence is the ability to draw connections and inferences.

                I could understand a liar saying “I don’t know what that has to do with anything” because, hey, the liar knows what that has to do with anything but lies about it for some nefarious purpose known only to the liar.

                I don’t think you are a child, stupid, or lying.

                This leads me to the only other conclusion that you are crazy. You have a blind spot as big as Bruce Willis’s in The Sixth Sense. Your narrative for your very existence precludes you having this blind spot and so your explanations for anything that goes on in this blind spot is other people somehow acting all weird. (And, hey, it’s not like other people don’t act weird from time to time.)

                And so in a discussion where Presidents blow the congressional majorities they inherited that the topic of 2006 comes up, you say that you don’t see where 2006 fits into this.

                You’re a ghost Koz.

                This is why the world does not make sense to you.Report

              • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Well, then by that analogy we’re not in 2006, we’re post 2006 but even then it’s not enough. The D’s may do something good, if we bribe them like corrupt third world border guards.

                Frankly, every other time you’ve talked about 2006 it’s had something to do with why you’re not supporting the R’s. Given that the GOP is taking its lumps for a policy you apparently believe in, I thought this was some variant of that excuse.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Koz, I already know that the Republicans talk like Republicans when they are out of power and then act like Democrats when they are in power.

                This has already been established.

                “When??? WHEN??? When have the Republicans held the Presidency *AND* the House *AND* the Senate????” I hear you ask as you hammer the table.

                You’re a ghost, Koz. This is why my comments don’t make sense.Report

              • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Oh, so it is about how something in 2006 explains why you’re not supporting the GOP even as they try to hold the line on the debt ceiling.

                I think you can forgive my confusion since you weren’t exactly clear. In your last comment 2006 was about how the Obama blew the Demo majority in the House of Representatives.

                In any case, let’s just what exactly do you expect Republicans to be able to accomplish and how do you suppose they will do it?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                No, Koz. That’s still not what I’m saying.

                Though I am not surprised that what I am saying is not audible to you.Report

              • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

                “Koz, I already know that the Republicans talk like Republicans when they are out of power and then act like Democrats when they are in power.”

                Ok, then what are they now, in power or out of power? We could do it the Demo’s way and next week we’d be Portugal with worse weather.

                We could increase the debt limit to whatever the Demo’s wanted it to be and if we did that we both know damn well you’d be blaming the Republicans for fiscal irresponsibility.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                They have more power than they did between 2008-2010 but less power than they did between 2004-2006.

                They were fully in power between 2004-2006. Fully. They had the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

                It was explained that “Deficits Don’t Matter”.

                I’m of the opinion that the guy who is standing on the lawn begging his girl to let him back inside will say anything to get back in. Once he’s back in, for some reason, he doesn’t act like he said he would.

                This is called “political realism”.

                I’m more of a mind to say “no, I’d rather be single”.

                But if they actually succeed in passing a bill that will cut costs to the point where they don’t need to raise the debt ceiling?

                Maybe I’ll listen.

                Do you think they’ll do that?

                Wait, let me guess. “The Democrats are worse!!!”

                Baby, I’ma gonna try being single for a while. I don’t need no deadbeat pretending to take care of me and pretending that I should be grateful to let him screw me.

                Thanks though.Report

              • North in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Jay, I know I’m a stinky statist and all but for what it’s worth; ILU, your libertarian principles & your cat icon too. Don’t ever change.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to tom van dyke says:

                ILU2, North.

                I just keep trying to plant my seeds. Some will fall on the path, some on the rocks, some among the weeds.

                That’s the way the world is. That’s okay though.Report

              • Koz in reply to tom van dyke says:

                “This is called “political realism”.”

                It’s only all our lives at stake, it’s not like it’s important or anything. Whatever your complaint was in 2006, I’m sure it was important too. Some realism.Report

              • Gotta agree with you Jesse, though I do feel that those two choices Obama ended up with were a consequence of mistakes he made earlier in that same session on the subject of HCR.Report

              • Chris in reply to North says:

                Right. The big issue was that he started small, instead of big, and launched the public relations campaign for health care reform well after the anti-health care reform public relations campaign had done its work. At that point, even though people liked individual parts of the bill, “health care reform” had become a 4-letter word.Report

              • North in reply to Chris says:

                Yes, he honestly thought A) that the GOP didn’t mean it when they flat out said they would not help him pass -anything-.
                B) that because he’d just won the election that he didn’t need to make the case for HCR.
                He maybe could have gotten away with B if he hadn’t sat round hoping for A and if he’d not followed B he might have made A turn out to be true but by hewing to both he screwed his issue over royally and barely was able to save himself from a total wipeout.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

                Right. Obama’s main sin is that he didn’t realize just how committed the GOP was to destroying him from Day One.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “(President)’s main sin is that he just didn’t realize how committed the (opposition party) was to destroying him from Day One.”

                With the fields filled appropriately, you could make this the conclusion of an essay at Redstate. (Full Disclosure: Redstate banned me.)Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Dunno if you know Bird Dog from over there. He’s a good guy, rara avis, an honest (if occasionally intemperate) Conservative. A real mensch. They banned him, too.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I may remember that.

                I joined up during the emotional upheaval that was what’s-his-name’s plagiarism scandal and was banned during the “I can’t believe we lost that badly” emotional upheaval.

                When I was a kid, Conservatives weren’t emotional at all. Stupid internet.Report

              • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Jay, I don’t feel quite the way you describe because I’d put more of the guilt on Obama. If he’d have been more politics and business and less “Oh they’ll do what I want because I’m me. Hope and change!!!” Then he’d have written off the GOP by March at the latest. If the GOP had realized that Obama was -willing- to proceed without them then their incentive to participate skyrockets. If something is going to pass then it’d be very much in their interest to have a say in the matter. Obama’s dithering an naiveté allowed the GOP to (understandable) think they could pull a ’94 redux and keep anything from passing so they lock stepped in opposition. They nearly pulled it off too but Pelosi and Reid (by the skin of their teeth) managed to bring HCR in for a landing. It wasn’t what anyone wanted, hell it was not supposed to be the final draft, but it was all they could get so they took it.Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “It wasn’t what anyone wanted, hell it was not supposed to be the final draft, but it was all they could get so they took it.”

                “So, in order to accomplish a difficult political priority, I’m willing to cause an infinite amount of economic and cultural damage to America.”

                Hmmm, wonder why we don’t trust you.Report

              • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Oh Koz, the things you say. Infinite economic and cultural damage.Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I dunno, North, it’d be useful for you to imagine how much better the economy would be if we didn’t have Obamacare hanging on us like an albatross.Report

              • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I can imagine a lot of things Koz me lad. What relevance that has to the matters at hand, however, is beyond me.Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Because in this negotiation (and the ones that will follow it), the most difficult part of moving forward is determining what the shared interest is. When your team is blithely implements policies that cause damage they do, you have no good faith to negotiate more difficult, longer term items.Report

    • Koz in reply to David Cheatham says:

      Oh bullshit. If we had a center right President we could just do the expenditure cuts and raise the debt ceiling. It’s not like this will be the only opportunity to do tax hikes. Given the horrific hole the Demo’s have put us in, we’re going to have to do this in steps anyway.

      Like Mickey Kaus says, ‘cuz it’s the D’s we have to do the cuts first or else nobody is going to believe they’ll ever come.

      And for the Armageddon people, let’s just note that if we can’t cut our expenditures from the track that they’re on, we’ll end up defaulting on our Treasuries soon enough anyway.Report

  2. Elias,

    A fair and balanced piece. I share your complete lack of interest in this whole ‘debate’. I am quite certain that there will be an 11th hour resolution just like the shutdown ‘crisis’.Report

    • Koz in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      I don’t know why we’re supposed to think this is irrelevant. From where I sit it’s actually way more important the election for the moment.

      I wouldn’t bet on there being a resolution any time soon. More importantly, if there is a resolution it depends a huge amount on what the resolution is. Either we can cut expenditures or we can’t.

      From what the D’s have shown us so far, they have to be bribed with cupcakes every time they eat their vegetables. If it stays that way, we’ve got no chance. But it doesn’t have to. Frankly their substantive displeasure at whatever cuts are going to take place is pretty minimal. What mortifies them is the prospect of capitulating to the Republican interest, even if it’s best for America or even essential for America to exist.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

        Yes, America will cease to exists unless tax rates stay the lowest they’ve been in generations!Report

        • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          Well, among other things, the D’s have told us America will cease to exist if we default on our Treasury obligations.

          And, ‘cuz it’s the D’s we have to do the cuts first or else they won’t happen.

          If you really want tax increases you should support the Republicans.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

            Or ya’ know, pass a clean debt limit increase and negoitate about the budget when ya’ know, you’re passing a budget. Every single Democrat is in favor of this. So, stop putting this on the Democrat’s.Report

            • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              Ugh, what a drooler. As it happened, they had a vote in Congress not too long ago, check the link. There were 82 Demo’s against the clean debt limit increase and only 97 in favor.

              The D’s want to pretend that they are in favor of fiscal sanity, but they don’t want to do anything about it. They just want to keep doing the same ‘ol same ‘ol, but hey you can’t blame us ‘cuz the Republicans voted for it too.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                Democrats aren’t stupid enough to vote for something by themselves that can be portrayed as bad by Crossroads USA _and_ can’t pass without Republican votes unless they get bipartisan buy in.

                But hey, hopefully Obama will use the Constitutional option and remove the bullet from Boehner’s chamber.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                (citation needed)Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Yeah, no shit. Wtf does Crossroads USA have to do with the price of tea in China?

                Why do the Demo’s need bipartisan buy-in for the Demo position on an issue? You just wrote that every Demo wants a “clean” debt ceiling increase, which is full of shit. This is going to be a long process, Jesse. The sleaze, incompetence, self-dealing, ignorance of liberals in America has done its thing and here we are. We might be able to get out of this fix, but the bad faith of the Demo’s is the problem not the solution.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                The Democratic Party is not going to vote for a clean debt limit increase when they’re in the minority and they’re the only people voting for it. That’s just stupid.

                The bad faith is entirely on the side of the GOP. John Boehner could solve the debt limit crisis tomorrow if he truly wanted too. Just like he did when he voted for a debt limit increase seven times when Bush was President.Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Why not? Do the Demo’s think a “clean” debt limit increase is a good thing? If it is, they can certainly for it whether the GOP supports it or not.

                Demo: We want to support fiscal stability. Here’s a package that $X trillion in expenditure cuts, $Y billion in tax increases, and a debt limit increase.

                Boehner: Fine. Get rid of the tax expenditures, and we have a deal.

                Demo: Noooooo. We only support expenditure cuts if we also get to raise taxes as well.

                Boehner: Wtf???????????Report

              • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Umm Koz, it’s called “negotiating” and “politics” ya know? The party that controls the Senate majority -and- the presidency does get to demand a few things. In what insane universe does the party that controls only congress get to dictate 100% of the deal with zero concessions?Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Because that’s like, saying, “OK, as a family, we’re all going to exercise more and stop eating desserts after dinner.”

                “I don’t like it, but fine.”

                “Cool, I’m going to order a cheesecake.”

                “Wait, what? I’m going to quit ordering dessert.”

                “But yes, you have to quit ordering it before I do. Oh, and when the kids ask why there are no more cookies in the house and we have to ride bikes to the park, I’m going to blame you.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “You know what, I hate this diet idea. If you don’t suffer too, I don’t see why I should.”



                “The government should do something about how we’re obese.”Report

              • Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “Umm Koz, it’s called “negotiating” and “politics” ya know?”

                Depending on exactly what’s in the deal I’d probably take it. But I think you’re losing sight of the fact that this deal is not going to “solve” anything (except the debt ceiling, and only temporarily for that).

                You want to buy a car and you don’t have the money? Ok, then put down a deposit and come back with the rest of it. No, you don’t get to keep the hubcap. No you don’t get to keep the rear-view mirror.Report

              • North in reply to Koz says:

                Well Koz, the issue at hand is the Debt limit. Surely you know what is in the deal? A rip roaring heap of expenditure cuts and a small bunch of tax hikes mainly in the form of the elimination of ending various strains of corporate welfare via the elimination of credits/exemptions. As Jesse noted below it’s pretty much what the right wing think tanks recommended in 2010 when they were fantasizing 4:1 spending cuts to revenue increases is pretty sweet.Report

              • Koz in reply to Koz says:

                Btw, is this what you meant by raft after raft of spending cuts? If it is, it’s not exactly clear what they are or who’s committed to them.

                As far as the deal goes, if that’s what’s in it, I’d take it.

                But I don’t think you’re following the bigger picture. It obviously goes way beyond the debt limit, to where somehow we have to get to a place of government fiscal stability or we’re going to fail as a nation. The unwillingness of Team Blue to grok this and deal with the consequences is the cause of no small frustration for my team. That’s why “it’s a negotiation” is such a copout, even if at some level it’s true.

                ‘Cuz the fact is, as things stand there’s only one political nexus that plausibly represents the American people and has a policy path to preserve economic civilization. If there were more than one, we could try to negotiate between them, but there isn’t.Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to Koz says:

                The Big Lacuna: Something called “Cato Institute” that’s neither Team Red or Blue. Occasionally, they write about more than bedrooms and bongs. Interesting fellows.


                In the administration’s mind, apparently absolutely nothing has changed on fiscal policy in the last year. Obama hasn’t shifted toward fiscal responsibility an inch. The Tea Party movement, the November elections, the government debt crises in Europe, and the Obama Fiscal Commission have all been totally ignored in the new federal budget.

                The comment sections here so often seem like a time capsule, yesterday’s news and arguments, today.Report

              • Simon K in reply to Koz says:

                ““Cato Institute” that’s neither Team Red or Blue. Occasionally, they write about more than bedrooms and bongs. Interesting fellows.

                The comment sections here so often seem like a time capsule, yesterday’s news and arguments, today.


                This article appeared on National Review (Online) on February 14, 2011.


              • tom van dyke in reply to Koz says:

                Cato seems to be blacklisted hereabouts, or at least black-outed, which is…odd.

                This article appeared on National Review (Online) on February 14, 2011.


                Well, I sure hope you didn’t read it then, Simon! Stick with Yglasias, Drum and Sullivan. Can’t ever be too safe, epistemologically speaking.Report

              • Elias Isquith in reply to Koz says:

                Unfortunately, Cato is about as non-partisan as Mickey Kaus is liberal.Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to Koz says:

                Yes, Elias, but Cato sometimes speaks truth. Like here:

                In the administration’s mind, apparently absolutely nothing has changed on fiscal policy in the last year. Obama hasn’t shifted toward fiscal responsibility an inch. The Tea Party movement, the November elections, the government debt crises in Europe, and the Obama Fiscal Commission have all been totally ignored in the new federal budget.

                Since our gentlepersons on the left absolutely refuse to consider voices from the right, I hoped to slip Cato in here, being as some folks around here work for them and all.Report

              • Elias Isquith in reply to Koz says:

                Since our gentlepersons on the left absolutely refuse to consider voices from the right

                This is not a fair characterization of my work here at the League.Report

              • Koz in reply to Koz says:

                Yeah no shit. Not saying anything about Elias but that quote about the Administration was spot-on. The Administration have tried to pretend that they support expenditure cuts and seem to have deluded some of their partisans on the Left. But so far at least (and it’s been a long while) it’s all been bad faith smoke and mirrors.

                Some have criticized the R’s for picking this particular fight in the context of the debt ceiling. I could go either way on that really. But if not now, when. It’s beyond disingenuous to believe that we have to have trench warfare over something both sides claim to support.Report

              • Simon K in reply to Koz says:

                You’re misrepresenting the content, Tom. Just pointing that out. An NRO article from February hardly represents the latest and greatest from Cato, does it?Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to Koz says:

                Easy there with the “misrepresentation” bit, sir. Pick a Cato article yrself, any article. Open up the epistemological floor a little.

                Or don’t. But I’ve always favored libertarian sources as honest brokers in these things. If we take that away, then this forum is the same as any other.Report

              • Simon K in reply to Koz says:

                Its an NRO article, Tom. From February. Hardly “neither team red nor team blue”, nor an occasion to chastise us for not being up to date.Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to Koz says:

                You callin’ the Cato Institute a liar, Simon? Callin’ ’em GOP? Is it always about attacking the source?Report

              • Simon K in reply to Koz says:

                No, Tom. I’m pointing out your misrepresentation.Report

  3. Interesting post, Elias. While I generally frown on the usage of the word “neo-liberal” as charged and weasely (as though society has realized the “free” market is not all it’s cracked up to be and to think otherwise is some modern contrivance), I agree that economically Obama is a center-right, sane leader and ultimately unemployment is a much more serious problem than the debt (I’m biased).

    Nevertheless, what we need to do to solve our short term problems is likely bad for us in the long run. And vice versa. So in a sense, economic prescription stems from values more than anything else, which is squishy as all hell.Report

  4. BlaiseP says:

    The hard work you put into this essay is obvious. Kudos on much heavy lifting.

    Insofar as Obama is guided by Bill Clinton’s successes and failures, (and his wife as SecState) this situation isn’t all that hard to assess. Obama resorts to Bill Clinton at every turn, as you point out, right down to his advisors. The current deficit squabble is going down exactly as it went down under Clinton. Furthermore it was Bill Clinton’s signature which deregulated the CFTC, leading to the Enron debacle. While times were good, those of us who prophesied disaster in the wake of the repeal of Glass-Steagall were derided as old fuddy-duddies. I bought gold and have held it for five years. I knew what was coming.

    I repeat myself in saying how much I love the word Disillusioned. It is the sound of the stupid becoming wise against their will. The Progressives who backed Obama projected all their hopes and dreams onto this cipher of a politician. Back in the days when Harold Washington was running for mayor of Chicago, I was a volunteer on his campaign. So was Barack Obama. I may have met him, though I don’t remember it. I do remember his work at Altgeld Gardens.

    Why did Barack Obama come to Chicago? He had no roots there. He came because it was a bastion of black political power. He’d worked on a few little projects in NYC, but he arrived in Chicago tabula rasa politically. First the disciple of Harold Washington, then Emil Jones, Obama did not merely climb the political ladder, he pole vaulted, and he was a bare knuckles politician from the beginning. As a state senator, he volunteered for the dirtiest political tasks Emil Jones could set him, beginning with the then-blazing-hot issue of police extracting forced confessions from suspects.

    We think of Illinois as a Blue State but it is not. Chicago is Democratic and some of downstate is blue as well, but most of the state is rural and Republican. Obama went to these little county bastions of GOP power and worked out a good solution with the chiefs of police: videotaping interrogations. The GOP was delighted and surprised to realize how amenable Obama was to honest horse-trading.

    In short, anyone who thought Barack Obama was an old style Black Librul was seriously mistaken. He’s a sphinx, a tailor’s dummy, a consummate politician, capable of outwitting and out-jumping his opposition. Belay all this contumacious nonsense about Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright: Obama’s mentors are William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both endured the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and like the Clintons, few seem to understand how much Barack Obama relies on his wife.

    There is no Real Barack Obama and never was: like his hero Abraham Lincoln he keeps his own counsel, waiting for his enemies to make their intentions clear then doing an end run around them. Bill Clinton stomped the GOP weenie down to a geometrically flat two dimensional surface when they tried to corner him with ultimatums.

    Nobody’s bigger than the market. There’s only so much anyone can do about it. Keynesian economics worked very well for Keynes and his time. The same nostrums will not work for us today. There must be cuts somewhere: the deficit commission recommended one dollar of cuts for one dollar of tax rises or something to that effect: seems reasonable enough to me, and that’s what I predict will ultimately transpire. The GOP has just shut down the State of Minnesota, come to loggerheads with a Democratic governor. As goes that experiment in brinksmanship so will go the larger Federal budget negotiations.Report

    • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I don’t think Obama would thank you for saying he’s Clintonian Blaise. I might be convincable that he was but where I disagree with you is with regards to Obama’s self regard. Obama may or may not be Clintonian but I’m pretty sure he didn’t think of himself that way. His behavior, especially right out the gate, suggests to me he thought he was something better and more. Certainly he ain’t turned out to be much of a fighter so far (though when your opponents punch themselves in the nose so much there’s something to be said for simply standing clear).Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

        How very right you are: Obama has no intention of repeating the Clintons’ (yes, plural) mistakes. Where Bill Clinton would say anything to anyone at any time, whether or not it was in direct contradiction of what he’d said fifteen minutes before to someone else, Obama simply says one thing and does another.

        Obama has said he admired Abraham Lincoln and has studied him in depth. Things have changed since Lincoln was president, but Lincoln surrounded himself with his political rivals: his nomination of Hillary Clinton to SecState was a Lincoln-ian gesture, considering the viciousness of the fight for the Dem nomination. That’s my read on it anyway. He didn’t put her in as Veep, he gave her a position of actual power. He kept on Gates from the Bush era as SecDef, another such Lincoln-ian gesture.

        Obama’s a slick fighter, more of a judo and basketball man than a slugger. And he knows how to delegate his fights. He sure rode Rahm Emanuel hard. Damned near used that man’s prodigious supply of Mean Sauce up in the HCR debate. Rahm went back to Chicago all wore out. Notice how Rahmbo’s aged. Look at how Obama’s aged, good lord. Hillary isn’t looking a minute younger. The Executive just burns people up.Report

        • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Well beyond the fact that she’d be a nightmarish potential primary challenger right now if she weren’t in the administration I personally think Hillary has done yeoman’s (yeowoman’s?) work as Sec of State.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

            For all the viciousness of the attacks on Sarah Palin, nothing comes close to the mountain ranges of obloquy heaped on Hillary Clinton over the years. She was every bit Bill’s intellectual equal during his presidency and has coped with some dreadful shit during her tenure as SecState. Can you imagine dealing with the fallout of the Wikileaks disclosures? Yet still she soldiered on.

            Her tenure at State has not been an unalloyed tour de force: she’s been pushing for her own Praetorian Guard, armed contractors to match those of all the other Acronymic Bureaucracies, a bad move imho.

            When she ran for the Senate in NY State, she was again widely ridiculed for being a carpetbagger, you remember all that. Yet she went all over the state, and it gets pretty Conservative out there beyond Albany. It’s a poor state, too, as you go farther north. She earned the grudging respect of those salt of the earth types, dairymen and potato farmers out in places like Olean and Fillmore. When she got to the Senate, she kept her head down and made powerful friends across the aisle. She’s always been a hard worker.

            In a hundred ways, the Clintons paved the way through the minefield for Barack and Michelle Obama. Michelle’s never had to endure the visceral hatred people felt for Hillary Clinton and I don’t know why. Michelle Obama was a first-rate lawyer in her own right.

            Hillary’s just plain worn out. She wants to get off the aircraft and go to sleep in her own bed. I said upstream Obama works his people half to death.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Personally, I think the only difference between the hate on Michelle and that hate on Hillary is that Michelle has stayed largely out of partisan warfare (and when she does, such as in controversial things like eating more healthy, the Right does attack her) and also, it’s still acceptable in America to call a woman a bitch. Far less acceptable to use the insults I’m sure some right-wing radio hosts have in their head for the current First Lady.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                That pretty well sums it up. Hate Radio can say what it wants. Hate is sorta like getting drunk, if you’ve ever been around a mean drunk, you’ll know what I’m going on about. Eventually he sobers up and issues some mealymouthed apology, but in vino veritas, he’s still the same bastard he was when he was drunk and babbling all that stupid hateful shit. People don’t forget that sort of thing.

                All the hatin’ on Sarah Palin is only redounding to her benefit. This bit of Palin hagiography, the movie they’re showin’, from what I’ve heard it starts out with all these liberal gasbags a-hatin’ all over her in stereo. Thanks so much Bill Maher.

                In like manner, the hatin’ on Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama isn’t being forgotten. The best revenge is living well. Sometimes you can tell more about a person by the enemies they make than the friends they have. It’s important to make the right enemies in life.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I caucused for Hillary after they broke up my group supporting Mike Gravel.

              I don’t know that she would have gotten all of the House seats that Obama got nor all of the Senate seats that Obama picked up but I also don’t think that she would have lost all of the House seats that Obama lost nor the Senate seats for that matter.

              I don’t think that Hillarycare II would have passed (which is, of course, a plus in my book) and I also don’t think that she’d be identical to Obushba when it came to Medicinal Weed. DADT would still have gone away, I think.

              All that to say, I don’t mind having caucused for her.

              I sure as hell don’t mind voting third party against the guy who beat her.Report

            • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I dunno Jaybird. I think she’d have gotten whatever Hillarycare II she’d have wanted passed. She was in the Senate and knew the players there and she wouldn’t have spent 6 months playing footsie with Senator Snow.

              But yeah she’d have been pretty much the same on drugs and foreign policy.

              In my more fanciful moments though, when I’m feeling playful, I think that she’d have taken Bush II’s big barrel of torture… lit it on fire and rolled it right into the GOP so so she could have seen the look in her tormenters eyes before it hit. It would be consumed her whole first term I imagine and she’d not have gotten anything else done but I suppose you’d consider that a perk.Report

  5. Pat Cahalan says:

    You can’t lose a game of chicken if you don’t actually believe that your position is fatal. If you honestly believe that you’re gonna survive the head-on crash, and your opponent doesn’t, you don’t care if the guy swerves or not.

    Right now, I suspect that the Administration believes it can survive the head-on crash.

    I could very well be wrong. I agree wholeheartedly with Elias and Blaise that this guy isn’t the guy that most people thought he was. Right now, I’m not convinced that I’m reading him right, either.Report

    • 62across in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

      Pat –

      You say:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Elias and Blaise that this guy isn’t the guy that most people thought he was.

      … but Elias says:

      it’s time for us all to recognize that Obama is not who we thought he was, but rather who he said he was.

      …and that last bit is the most important part. Obama said over and over on the campaign trail how he would govern and to my mind he is doing just what he said he would do. He said he would reach out to the other side of the aisle and he would strive to disagree without being disagreeable. He said he would be practical and as a Pragmatist, I voted for him for that reason.

      So, my disillusionment is with those who read so much into what he was saying (both lefties who were sure he was REALLY more progressive than he was letting on and righties who were sure he was REALLY more radical than he was letting on) and are now disappointed that they interpretations of his rhetoric are not being manifested.Report

      • Pat Cahalan in reply to 62across says:

        IMO, most people voted for Hope and Change, not Pragmatic Post-partisan.

        One could argue that they actually meant the same thing to the candidate, but they certainly didn’t mean the same thing to the voting public.Report

        • Mr. C, most people voted for Better and got Worse. The problem is that the president is passive-aggressive and not a leader. Leaders are able to argue affirmatively, not merely attack their critics.

          And he has destroyed his party’s congressional majority, and at the statehouse level, the carnage was even worse in 2010.

          Blame whoever, the facts is the facts. Like Clinton, I expect Obama to win a second term while suffering further congressional losses; he is already a lame duck.Report

          • North in reply to tom van dyke says:

            Tom, the worse or better part is debatable wouldn’t you say? He’s about two full land wars in the near east short of the worst we’ve had in recent memory. Though there is Libya so maybe we should say 1.5?Report

          • Jon Rowe in reply to tom van dyke says:

            “Like Clinton, I expect Obama to win a second term while suffering further congressional losses; he is already a lame duck.”

            Sounds good to me. Maybe we’ll have budget surpluses like we did with Clinton and the Republican Congress.Report

      • Murali in reply to 62across says:

        I heard him say that he would be pragmatic. Given his time spent in Indonesia as a kid, I thought he would be more like Lee Kuan Yew.

        At the very least, I thought he would be a neo-liberal i.e. since I’m (Arguably) a neo-liberal, his policy preferences would match mine. Yet…Report

        • North in reply to Murali says:

          Murali, I don’t think the Risen Christ, Buddah, Liza Minnelli and Mohammed together could get (or keep) Lee Kuan Yew (or a man like him) into power in the USA without some kind of decades long dictatorship.
          I say this, incidentally, as an enormous fan of the man’s amazing econmic stewardship of the Republic of Singapore. The USA is, horray and alas, not starting out as a developing country though. That complicates things enormously.Report

  6. North says:

    As a neoliberal I feel mildly miffed that you feel that the entire tech bubble and the entire housing bubble can be laid at the feet of neoliberalism. I hate to sound like a libertarian but neither of those markets were unfettered or free of significant regulatory and government sponsored entity activity during the run up to or explosion of the bubbles.
    As to the debt limit mess I certainly am concerned but not alarmed yet enough to start switching the savings over to Canadian dollars (though I will admit I was quite shocked when my Mum visited from Canadia to find the Loony trading -over- the greenback).

    Obama finally seems to be taking off his rainbow colored sunglasses and digging his heels in for a fight. His position seems eminently defensible to the me: he’s offering huge spending cuts while very reasonably asking for some modest revenue increases in return which the GOP is refusing entirely. I know which of those two parties looks like the reasonable one to me and I read enough right wing sites to know they’re not entirely happy with the optics either. If Obama actually starts pleading his case, which he seems to be at least trying to do, he could win this fight in the court of public opinion. Obama seems to be, if not neoliberal himself, employing reliably Clintonian people at the financial levers so if things get down to the wire there are a lot of things he can defer paying: Defense contractors, other GOP pet constituencies, before he needs even start looking at the all important question of the good faith and standing of US Bonds.
    And finally, as Chait has mentioned, if things get to the true brass tacks there is an argument to be made that the executive could simply override the debt limit and instruct treasury to reissue debt anyhow under the constitutional mandate of preserving the full faith and credit of the US Government.
    That’s how I see it myself and judging by the relative calm of the bond markets I think they are seeing it similarly (with the caveat of course that when things go to hell in the market they tend to go to hell abruptly and quickly).

    One final point from me. I think when one looks back on Obamas’ big activities during his first two years I don’t see the resulting legislation as necessarily being a factor of his neoliberalism but rather it being a result of him hewing to his campaign rhetoric of new rainbows and unicorn ways of doing business in DC. HCR for instance was sorted over a year and a half or so but we should remember that Obama spent a good half of that time essentially holding his hat outside the door of the GOP for their moderates to come out and play. They bamboozled Obama good on that one (some impressive discipline in the Senate especially) and managed to run the clock out badly on that session. HCR itself was, remember, the preliminary bill which they hoped to sand the warts off of in conference but Obama ran out of time and public good will and ended up having to settle for HCR in its entirety rather than settling for nothing. If, soon after the GOP declared they were not going to participate in this, Obama had immediately set about negotiating only between the right and left wings of his own party I submit we’d have had a much better result and (ironically) the GOP probably would have broken ranks and come hat in hand to participate once they realized they were in danger of being shut out.
    I feel that issue after issue (including this one) is at least partially a result of Obama honestly believing he was the new “Change you can believe in President” and that belief making him arrogantly allow the GOP to yank an entire half year of legislative time right out of his Presidency.Report

    • Elias Isquith in reply to North says:

      Eh I don’t mean to lay all the failures and none of the successes of the recent American economy at the neoliberal doorstep, but I do think there are some fundamental problems translating the policy into progressive politics that were underlined over the past 4 years.

      But more importantly:

      I feel that issue after issue (including this one) is at least partially a result of Obama honestly believing he was the new “Change you can believe in President” and that belief making him arrogantly allow the GOP to yank an entire half year of legislative time right out of his Presidency.

      I totally agree and think this is perhaps the most under-appreciated and fundamental aspect of the Obama legacy thus far.Report

      • Koz in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        This neoliberal vs progressive (paleoliberal ?) economic policy divide is a red herring anyway. What exactly is progressive economic policy other than Lenin’s assertion that the capitalists will sell us the rope we’ll hang them with?

        Modern economies are complex things, with issues of government finance, banking, public choice, and so on. Progressive economics is a desire, not a policy (or policies). If they had a policy, they could defend it as a policy. As it is, all they have is a desire consequently they propagate demagoguery. I think that’s what’s underlying most of your complaints of the Obama Administration.Report

        • Pat Cahalan in reply to Koz says:

          Yanno, Koz, there may just be a little bit of light between a regulated progressive economy and top-down totalitarian control of the entire economy.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

            Did you not hear of the gulags in Stockholm?Report

          • Koz in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

            There may be in some circumstances. But when the shit hits the fan and the bloated welfare state collapses under its own weight, what gives way?

            That’s the difference between between a desire and a policy (or policies). If you have a policy, it can be propagated in clear terms and be judged a success or failure. If all you have is a generalized desire to help politically favored constituencies, there’s no accountability. For example, we see on this thread that the libs are going to defend the health care bill to the bitter end even if few if any of them are actually enthused about it.

            What is progressive economic policy exactly and how is it supposed to cause growth and and employment? There are no answers for this, only relativistic critiques of conservative or neoliberal policy.

            And before I forget, the supposed neoliberalism of President Clinton was significantly a circumstantial thing anyway, due to the failure of the Clinton-health care bill.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Koz says:

              The interesting thing about shit and fans boils down to the bipartisan nature of shit and the dispassion of the fan.

              For many decades, America’s spent more than it taxed. I will not bother to point out the GOP is part and parcel of the problem: that would just be Tu Quoque. I’d just like to ask just where the Liberals went wrong. Take the labels off Obama’s bills and they look just like Bush’s bills, even HCR looks for all the world like Romneycare. Where is the money going presently? To all the same places it went before.

              For all the GOP’s brave talk about massive cuts, no actual cutting’s been going on. Now, here’s the part where I pound the pulpit and do my Ed Beatty impression and demand the GOP actually do something, dammit. Cheap talk ain’t enough. All these Republican candidates talk a lot but they don’t do anything, and it takes two hours in the makeup chair to get them to look like anything but their usual spendthrift selves.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                That would be Ned Beatty.Report

              • Koz in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I get equally frustrated and amused by answers like this. I suppose the GOP should morph into a hybrid of Superman and the Holy Ghost. Then, it could metaphysically outvote the Demo’s in the Senate and suck the ink out of Obama’s veto pen with its x-ray vision.

                This is ridiculous. What the GOP accomplishes is necessarily less than or equal to what it is capable of. What it’s capable of isn’t clear exactly, but it’s probably something on comparable to other committed intelligent energetic Americans. If it’s tapped out, it’s tapped out.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

                Remember 2004-2006?

                Wait, let me guess… you have no idea what 2004-2006 has to do with your comment at all.Report

              • Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

                I dunno Jay, why don’t you tell me how 2004-6 explains why the GOP hasn’t imposed fiscal stability on the Obama Administration.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

                Were we talking about the Republicans failing to act more like Republicans?

                I thought that we were talking about how they weren’t failing to do that.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Koz says:

                What? I was told on Good Authority the GOP has the ear of the Almighty and comes with His Mandate. After all, that’s what they promised in the last elections.

                Now, Koz, I thought the GOP were Men of Ackshun, the wimmens too. Their wise guidance would lead us from the fleshpits of Egypt to the Promised Land. Akshun Jackson, I want results and I want ’em now. Facts be damned, eh, it’s principles that count. I want those Catfood Commissions geared up and ready for action. Ready the platoons of orderlies to roll those expensive oldsters out of those damned old nursing homes and into the woods where the bears can eat ’em. I want these problems to Go Away.Report

              • Koz in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Koz says:

                Now, Koz, if we really want to reduce expenditures without raising taxes, the obvious solution is to quit having problems which require expenditures. Want less government? Have fewer problems. It’s so obvious, I can’t believe it hasn’t been brought up before as a potential solution to this Crise-du-Jour.

                Now obviously, we can’t eliminate loopholes and subsidies to the oil companies, no matter how massive or obscene. There are whole business sectors entirely dependent on ’em. Never mind how they warp the free market in goods and services. As Dr. Pangloss observed, things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. And thus it is with loopholes: clearly they were created for the best end and cannot be closed.

                As for your previous answer at #63, if what you say is true, why haven’t the GOP leaders found some common ground with the President and the Senate? The answer seems obvious to me, at any rate, the GOP simply does not believe these problems exist. Why should they come to terms with President Obama on anything at all? Why should they ratify any of his appointments? There are no problems which require government solutions, beyond the maintenance of loopholes and defending their constituencies from the vile predations of wascally wegulators and saving small children from the pernicious effects of a scientific education.

                That’s right folks. There’s no problem so vexing that it cannot be wished away. Like all those children clapping to save the life of Tinkerbelle in Peter Pan, if everyone just claps hard enough and wishes it to be true, all our problems will melt away and lions shall lay down with lambs and a little child shall lead them. It’s God’s plan, you see, that the GOP will lead us o’er Jordan, to a land where problems are legislated out of existence by removing the funding for their solutions.Report

        • North in reply to Koz says:

          Just because you say it’s so Koz doesn’t make it true. I can’t carry much water for progressives, being a neoliberal myself, but your comprehension (or lack thereof) of the ideas, ideals and positions of the Democrats and their constituencies seems to badly undercut your own arguments. Certainly for the past twenty years or so the Democrats have (when they’re not doing the crony business as usual nonsense that both parties indulge in) been generally in favor of markets with moderate regulation to try and take the edge off and decent safety nets. Stalin really isn’t lurking in the closet. The Dem conventions don’t have the mummified corpse of Lennin hidden back stage to be wheeled out as soon as the TV cameras are turned off (I’ve not been there myself but I know people who worked there and I’m sure they’d have mentioned Lennin). They’re also pretty in favor of solvent government as Obama has eminently demonstrated by offering raft after raft of spending cuts to the GOP. That the GOP keeps moving the goalposts rightward is understandable (considering how squishy Obama has been with em) but I don’t know that it’s defensible.

          Oh and for the record, I’ll restate now that I still am confident that Obama’s administration will not be overseeing a default US bonds on their watch.Report

          • Koz in reply to North says:

            “They’re also pretty in favor of solvent government as Obama has eminently demonstrated by offering raft after raft of spending cuts to the GOP.”

            Just out of curiosity, what are you talking about here.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

              The latest offer from the bi-partisan debt working group led by Biden was made up of 83% cuts and 17% new expenditures. Or, what right-wing think tanks were asking for in their policy papers in 2010.Report

            • North in reply to Koz says:

              What Jesse said.Report

              • Koz in reply to North says:

                Ok. That just isn’t true.

                I know you’re trying to make a point about the budget cuts in the context of tax increases and whatnot, but it’s important for you to know that what you’re saying isn’t true even in your own frame of reference.

                There has been some negotiations between the Vice-President and Eric Cantor about about a debt ceiling deal, and there have been various figures thrown around in the press.

                AFAIK the details of these “deals” have never been published. Nobody is committed to them. The best you can say is that the Veep may have agreed in principle with Rep. Cantor about something, but when push comes to shove he doesn’t get a vote anyway.

                There is no “raft after raft” of spending cut proposals from the Administration, there just isn’t. If there were, things would look different. But, the D’s rejected the Ryan plan, their own budget commission, they issued shutdown threats during the CR negotiations, they rejected Ryan-Rivlin and all of it, with nothing left over.

                I guess we have to do it our way.Report

      • North in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        Elias, oh yes, I agree.
        I don’t blame the man for being idealistic and caught up in his own hype… but God(ess?) help me if he looses his reelection because of it I’ll never forgive him for it.Report

    • Koz in reply to North says:

      Why not just cut expenditures? We have to cut expenditures anyway, for the sake of proving that we can do it if nothing else?Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

        Because the poor and middle class shouldn’t have to pay for the sins of Wall Street.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          Wall Street, whose only goal is to make obscene amounts of money with no shame or sense of responsibility for the consequences, by definition cannot sin.

          The poor and middle class, who will never generate or accumulate obscene amounts of wealth, are surplus baggage and a dead weight on the people who really matter.Report

          • Koz in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            It is the nature of the people that they are not coerced into excellence.

            It is where one person chooses to engage another that creates the foundation for fulfilling relationships.

            If people choose to collaborate together, or one person agrees to hire another and the other agrees to work for him, that the possibility of economic prosperity begins. If that possibility is crushed by economic distortions, there is no prosperity and hardship follows.Report

  7. Koz says:

    The HCR story is a bum rap. The President and the Demo’s didn’t need the GOP for anything. They needed the acquiescence of the American people and they didn’t have it. Frankly, the GOP was trailing the American people on that one anyway.

    Then the Demo’s said to themselves, fkkk it, we’ve got the votes, we don’t have to care about the esteem of the American people, we’ll do what we want, a really really really sleazy thing to do. Now, the economy is in trouble, because of runaway government expenditures and lack of trust among Americans. And the opportunity arises for the Demo’s who can rationalize, yeah that was a really, really, really sleazy thing I did, I got to make amends for that.

    We can cut government expenditures, and give people hope that someday in the medium term future we can have a positive growth and low unemployment economy in America again.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

      Except for the mandate (which is complicated to explain in a positive way in a five second way), the American people support every major provision of the health care bill. Independents oppose the bill because chunks of them bought into the idea that the health care bill cut Medicare benefits while setting up death panels.Report

      • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        So what?

        This is what the libs were telling themselves in Aug 2009. Once the people figure out what’s in it, they’ll support it then. Well, that didn’t work. Ultimately, you have to be accountable to something other than your desire to bloat the welfare state.Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

          I’m accountable to the facts on the ground that says the health care bill decreases costs, increases coverage, and lowers the deficit. You’re accountable to think-tanks who come out with plans to gut Medicare that also predict 2.3% unemployment. I’ll take the stuff I’m accountable for.Report

          • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            It’s all bullshit, more importantly it’s bullshit that the American people never wanted. If you get an operational veto on maintaining government expenditures we can’t pay the Treasuries anyway and we might as well stock up on bottled water and consider seasteading.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

              If the American people don’t want it, they why is there majority support for every major provision of the health care bill aside from the mandate?Report

              • Koz in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I don’t know or care. I just know for an absolute certainly that for some reason they don’t want, and that it is good enough.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I suspect that it has to do with whether people like the idea of X versus whether they like being told to do X.

                Do you like the idea of people not dying of preventable diseases like those associated with obesity?

                Sure! We all do!

                Do you want to eat your vegetables, avoid carbs, avoid sugars, and avoid red meats?

                No. You don’t.

                But, you know what? You’re a big fan of the *IDEA* of people not dying of preventable diseases like those associated with obesity.

                (And, of course, I don’t mean *YOU* you.)Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Of course people like benefits more than responsibilities. My point is that _most_ of the opposition to the ACA is either completely political (ie. Republican’s who supported individual mandates on November 1,2008), based on lies (Seniors who voted against Democrats because they supposedly cut Medicare benefits), and a small segment who are opposed to government interference in health care.

                Yes, people don’t like the mandate, but the GOP and right-wing thrust was never built on the mandate. It was built on socialism, death panels, and government takeovers of health insurance.

                If somebody is against the ACA because of the mandate, I disagree with them but I don’t think they’re against the bill based on false pretenses.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                What about for “nose of the camel” reasons?Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

                “government interference in health care.”

                I covered that. If I’m correct in what you’re asking about. But to be blunt, outside of the Internet, there’s not a lot of people who actually care about that part. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing is up to you and I respect your point of view, but that’s not much of a natural consistency.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I keep hoping that “small government” is the next “gay marriage”.

                It’s a punchline today but, maybe, in 20 years? It’ll be legal.Report

  8. Anderson says:

    I never understood why anybody was under the impression that Obama would be a strong liberal president, a quick reading of the Audacity of Hope and his 2004 DNC speech spells it out pretty well: This man truly wanted to be a post-partisan figure. Yet, two main factors destroyed his ideal: the financial crisis and the rise of the tea party. Let’s remember, before September 2008, nobody was thinking about bailouts, stimulus, financial reform, debt crises, QE, 10% unemployment, etc…Obama probably envisioned his presidency as a historic moment to improve, by (hopefully) bi-partisan and unradical means, our nation’s healthcare, energy, immigration, and education policies, all while footing the bill with a return to Clinton-era tax rates. So was the dream of most neoliberals…But then everything went to hell and desperate times led to unprecedented measures, making the philosophical debate over the role of government turn as partisan and vitriolic as perhaps the infamous Hamilton-Jefferson divide of the 1790s. Obama still attempted to sail the middle course by fruitlessly negotiating for Republican senate votes and keeping Keynesian measures limited, but the newly tea party influenced Republican majority left him with an open hand and nobody to shake it, all while liberals fumed at the man they should have known all along would never truly be one of their own.Report

    • This is exactly right. I hope Obama gets a chance to try this in 2012, since it seems like none of the Republicans running are anywhere close to sane.Report

      • North in reply to Christopher Carr says:

        Romney Chris. He has a perfectly decent shot at the Presidency and I haven’t seen any reason to doubt that he’ll get the nomination.Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

          Do you mean the Mitt Romney of 2002, 2008, or 2011? 🙂

          (And before Koz or somebody else runs in, yes, I realize Obama shifted his positions on some issues. But, he was a early-21st century electable liberal in 2001 and an early-21st century electable liberal in 2011.)Report

          • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            Jesse, I hope God(ess) that you’re right. But I really try to sometimes see the country and the electorate as it is and not as it appear to a highly politically engaged person. People don’t pay close attention and Obama has even odds of loosing to the generic GOP candidate. And how much more generic GOP do you get than Romneytron?Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

              “Generic X” is always an awesome candidate. The guy never runs for some reason.

              But sure, if the Flying Spaghetti Monster came down and said, a Republican has to win in 2012, I’d say Romney because I believe deep down he doesn’t really want to dismantle the welfare state or bomb random countries.Report

              • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Well yes, it’s some consolation that Romney is probably the shoe in for the GOP nod. I continue to hope against hope that Bachman somehow wriggles in. Those fruitloops would crash and burn something fierce and Obama wouldn’t even have to look up from his desk.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                Romney will be the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket. He will not be at the top of the ticket.

                These are my words. I would not write them if I expected to eat them.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Nah, Romney has too much of an ego to be the VP. If somebody like Bachmann wins, they’ll throw John Thune or some other stiff establishment conservative on there. If someone like Pawlently or *giggles* Huntsman wins, Bachmann will be the VP.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jaybird, seriously, you just made my evening! Who do you think is going to get the nod???

                Now me.. I look back on the very few GOP primaries I’ve seen and I see…
                Bush II goes into the race the front runner. There’s some hoopla, some drama, a bit of cat fighting and then Bush II gets the spot with McCain in second.
                McCain goes into the race the front runner. There’s some hoopla, some drama, a bit of cat fighting and then McCain gets the spot with Romney in second…
                Now I see Romney going into the race as the front runner… … …Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:


                Let me think on this.

                I think I will make a post for Sunday in which everybody will be expected to make their predictions for November of next year.

                In a year, we can come back to it and point and laugh at each other…

                But tonight… well, I’m drinkin’.Report

              • North in reply to North says:

                Excellent plan!Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

                I’m working on a growler of Red Cedar Red, e’en now.

                I raise my red plastic glass and toast your very good health, Jaybird.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                And you, and you, and you, and all of us!

                May we get what we want, may we get what we need, but never get what we deserve!Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

                We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
                We come on the ship that sailed the moon
                We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
                and sing an American tuneReport

              • Christopher Carr in reply to North says:

                Here’s to you. Here’s to me. And if by chance we disagree then f*** you and here’s to me.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

                … but let’s not talk about romance just now. The thought of fucking some of you fills me with an indescribable horror. abunai!Report

              • Elias Isquith in reply to North says:

                If RomneyCare did not exist I’d consider his chances at around 70%. As it is, I’d say he’s got a 40% chance or so of winning. I might be nuts but I still think that somehow Pawlenty will stop being terrible at running for the GOP nomination. I don’t see Perry doing it because honestly what does he bring you that Bachmann doesn’t besides dashing good looks and male genitalia?Report

              • North in reply to Elias Isquith says:

                Well he’s a brutha, that’s not nothing.
                Elias, I dunno, maybe it’s my imported MN hate speaking but I’ve never taken Pawlenty seriously as a candidate. But it’s not too late for support to somehow coalesce around him.

                But if I’m going to fantasize I’d really rather have Huntsman.Report

              • Elias Isquith in reply to North says:

                I just can’t see how he does it this time around, but I’d be quite happy with a Huntsman nom. All signs indicate he’s looking at 2016, tho, methinks.Report

              • Koz in reply to Elias Isquith says:

                Hmmm, umpteen trillion jobs in Texas and the recipe to create them in the rest of America? Fkkk it, you’re a lib what do you care about jobs anyway.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                Rick Perry’s going to discover oil in the rest of America?

                However, I wouldn’t mind him bringing Texan laws on real estate speculation to the nation, which of course, would be called job-killing socialism if Obama announced his support for a federal level law.Report

              • Elias Isquith in reply to Koz says:

                Well, if that means Perry will implement further billions in stimulus funds as he has done as TX Gov then I suppose things could go worse!Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                Don’t forget, per capita, Texas is in more debt than California. PERRY 2012!Report

              • Christopher Carr in reply to Koz says:

                No seriously guys. Rick Perry as President could make sure that the glory of the 21st Century does not go to the Chinese.

                The Chinese executed 5,000 prisoners in 2009. America only executed 52, but of those 52, 24 were in Texas. Multiply this by 50, and you get 1200, which still isn’t anywhere close to China, but it would certainly restore consumer confidence, and maybe one day we could put up the kinds of numbers the Chinese are.Report

              • Christopher Carr in reply to North says:

                You have far more confidence that the American people will make the clear and obvious right choice than I do. I told myself before that if Huckabee got the nomination, I’d go on the road for Obama. I might do the same if Bachman or Palin or any of the other nutbirds get to run. One can never be too safe if a complete loon is one of exactly two people who could be President and one is apparently an Islamic Kenyan Marxist.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Anderson says:


    • North in reply to Anderson says:

      Anderson, I’ll endorse the narrative with only one caveat. I don’t think Obama gets to put 100% of the blame on the Tea Party or the recession. People are expected to recognize reality and adjust their plans accordingly. Obama failed to do so for far too long and that is a self inflicted would that has cost him dearly.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

        Sure, I think Obama took too long to realize the modern Republican party is a ‘death cult that should be put to flame by rational men’ [TM Donkeylicious] as well. He deserves some of the blame, not just as much as much of the Left gives him. Any President, even Saint Russ Feingold would’ve had to deal with the same Senate and the same House and the same media.Report

        • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          Well once we agree to all that it’s really just hair splitting. I mean it’s not like anyone on the left or middle left has anywhere else to go. We’re still trying to scrub the monkey crap off the walls from the last time left wingers actually voted for a party further to the left than our warty ol’ Dems. *sigh* Two party system baby.Report

    • 62across in reply to Anderson says:

      Great comment. That’s what I was trying to get at above. How Obama would govern was clear in what he wrote and what he said.

      I’d only add that I think Obama still expects to be a post-partisan figure. As North and others have noted, that could be taken as naive or arrogant. It certainly seems to ignore political reality.

      But, again, if you listen to what he says (not what others say he is saying), you’ll find he is approaching the job as a long haul and not a series of short news cycles. If the recession double dips, he will likely fail in his bid for re-election and then the strategy will be a big bust. But, if the trajectory of the economy is even a little upward, he gets a second term. And I suspect he will have accomplished just about everything he set out to by the end of it.Report

      • tom van dyke in reply to 62across says:

        BHO’s “post-partisanship” was that those who disagreed would STFU and fall into line behind him. He made zero effort at consensus. Even among his own party on Obamacare, he merely strongarmed the dissenters.

        The story of BHO’s presidency has very little to do with the clueless opposition party and everything to do with own his lack of statesmanship. Not only did he attack the other party from the git-go, he ate his own.

        Sorry folks, it’s not about politics or even policy, it’s about statesmanship. He does not know the difference. FDR and Reagan did; Carter and Obama do not.Report

  9. tom van dyke says:

    I find you fair, Elias, but your cites in this essay [Drum, Yglasias, Michael Lind, not to mention the estimable “Ed at Gin and Tacos”] remind one of the old saw about liberal “open-mindedness”: always willing to look at both sides of the same side.

    The Cato piece hits much closer to home, fact and reality. Why the left finds anything surprising about BHO is beyond me. He was always clearly an empty suit with pedestrian progressive leanings. He’d have gone more left but had neither the support of the country nor the statesmanship to lead it where he wanted to go.

    But hey, it’s cool. I had thought you wrote more for a general audience than the lefty echo chamber, where the only sounds are variations on the Drum/Yglasias, etc. theme and even Cato has no place at the table.Report

    • Eh. It’s a piece about liberals’ relationship with Obama, not whether or not Obama/liberalism is teh suxxors. I understand where you’re coming from, though.Report

      • S’cool, Elias. The carping, even inside its own world, doesn’t seem coherent to me. I see no evidence atall that BHO actually favors spending cuts or is willing to take the lead on anything at anytime. [Except this Libya thing, but it’s really more passive-aggressive since he ignores any opposition rather than leading as Clinton did in Kosovo. And one wonders if it’s solely for a foreign policy feather in his electoral cap.]

        “MIA” and “voting present” are not unfair jokes aimed at BHO. They are his style and character.

        “Where’s President Obama?” asked Paul Krugman in his Sunday New York Times column. “What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?”

        Well, Krugman gets it right, and in far fewer words.Report

  10. tom van dyke says:

    I protest this sliming, Simon. The New Republic shares content with Cato as well. It is neither Team Red or Blue.


    Should you be capable of dealing with the content and not smear me any further, I’ll catchya down the line. This attack is unfair; if nothing else, Cato is an honest broker with the facts and that was my core point.Report

  11. Jesse Ewiak says:

    Is there where I point out that Brink Lindsay was purged from Cato not that long ago?Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      Who ya’ know, wrote the article TVD linked too.Report

      • Cato’s “liberaltarian purge” is a valid objection. Just had to say so. Cato’s out, then. Problem is, not much is left as neutral ground, and of course National Review has cooties and can never be cited.

        So all that’s left is Drum, Klein, Yglasias and the rest of the leftatariat. Small world. Life goes on without you.Report