Saturday, December 04, 2010

It’s Cryin’ Time Again

Krugman makes me want to cry. Twice. First, he says what I’ve wanted to say since President Obama froze Federal wages and -- as always -- makes it look easy.

”So freezing federal pay is cynical deficit-reduction theater. It’s a (literally) cheap trick that only sounds impressive to people who don’t know anything about budget realities. The actual savings, about $5 billion over two years, are chump change given the scale of the deficit.

Anyway, slashing federal spending at a time when the economy is depressed is exactly the wrong thing to do. ”

Before this moment passes...even though the tears, I can see how this statement will be useful in future years. You’ll want to put it away some place safe -- for negotiations -- when better times come back around. Which brings me to the second -- and real -- reason to cry.

”Mr. Obama’s pay ploy might, just might, have been justified if he had used the announcement of a freeze as an occasion to take a strong stand against Republican demands — to declare that at a time when deficits are an important issue, tax breaks for the wealthiest aren’t acceptable.

But he didn’t. Instead, he apparently intended the pay freeze announcement as a peace gesture to Republicans the day before a bipartisan summit. At that meeting, Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.”

I would love to write that I disagree wholeheartedly with Professor Krugman and that he’s a quack and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But we all know better. For those that don’t read my blog (or his), it’s uncanny how often Krugman is correct -- long before anyone else has gotten around to thinking about the subject.

”Stimulus, bank rescue, China, foreclosure; it applies all along. At each point there were arguments for not acting; but the cumulative effect has been drift, and a looming catastrophe in the midterms.

Or to put it another way, the administration has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. And soon there won’t be any more opportunities to miss.”

That statement isn’t from today’s column. It was a blog entry back in October. If I wanted to spend the time, I’m sure I could go back further -- because I’m sure Krugman does.

But wait, there’s more. And it’s worse. Krugman’s column was in Friday’s New York Times. Oh no, it wasn’t in some blog entry. I was out there in front of God and everybody.

Freezing Out Hope

In addition, the editorial board itself wrote an editorial on Friday that was just as damning.

Inside the Beltway: A Deficit of Purpose

”In the last few weeks, Republicans have blocked or vowed to kill: an extension of jobless benefits; the first real arms reduction treaty with the Russians in nearly a decade; the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”; and, most significantly for the nation’s financial future, the expiration of unnecessary and expensive tax cuts for the rich.

Where has the president been through all this, as the sand runs out on a Congress with two Democratic majorities? He has issued a few mild statements and urged everyone to work together, when everyone knows the Republicans will refuse.”

To lose Paul Krugman and the New York Times editorial board on the same day has to hurt, if you’re a Democratic President. Especially a few days after you threw one of your core constituencies -- Federal workers -- under the bus.

Is it time to turn on the light saber yet, President Obama? It sure looks like it is, to me.

Don Brown
December 4, 2010

1 comment:

John Milton said...

Should we eliminate earmarks? No, they're a tiny portion of the budget. Let's cut funding for NPR. No way, that spending is insignificant. How about freezing federal wages. That's just a drop in the bucket.

The thing is, these all add up. Let's start looking at EVERYTHING and get our budget balanced NOW. That's what the elections were about.