Was Fiscal Cliff Deal a Stinker, or Did Obama Win One?
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Now I just want to read another quote. This is Brad Plumer writing in the Washington Post:
“The U.S. will have about $348 billion in austerity measures this year — roughly $200 billion from spending cuts, $125 billion from the end of the payroll tax cut, and $24 billion in taxes from Obamacare. That amounts to austerity totaling 2.1 percent of GDP, a bigger austerity package than Britain, Germany, or Spain has enacted.”
All of those countries have slipped – well, not Germany, but Britain and Spain have both slipped back into recession in recent years.
This idea that it’s … what is the responsibility of the president? The economic forecasters have cut GDP growth forecasts in half because of this deal and now we’re going to, as you say, we’re going to get more cuts -- we don’t know how deep they'll be -- in two months. This is horrible economic policy and frankly, I, as a liberal, I would love the president -- who I don’t expect to use his bully pulpit to call for free abortions -- I would like him to point out that this is really crappy economic policy instead of crowing over it.
MT: That’s a pretty good question and a pretty good argument, I have to confess. The question really is how much can a president change the terms of a debate in Washington? One that’s defined by certain perimeters and has been defined by certain perimeters for a long time. That’s something that I think, yeah, you’re right, Obama could probably do a little better job of that. He does tend to operate within the perimeters that the establishment sets.
Maybe that’s not entirely fair. I think he broke those perimeters on gay marriage; he broke those perimeters a bit. Not to the extent that everybody would like, but he broke those perimeters a bit on healthcare. On economic questions, though, he certainly is a cautious type. There’s no doubt about it. I can understand him looking at the situation and thinking, as I wrote, "I am the president. If we don't hit this deadline, people are going to hold me accountable for it and we have to hit it."
There are very, very few people, Joshua, who even understand what you just said. I don’t think more than 5 percent of Americans would understand the question you just asked me. That makes it kind of hard. Kind of hard for a president to explain all that stuff to people.
JH: I want an explainer-in-chief. Michael Tomasky, we're out of time. But this is one of those disagreements where I hope you’re right and I hope I’m wrong.
MT: I always hope I’m right.
JH: Well, I believe we agree on something!