Obama's centrist mask drops
For those outside the liberal cocoon and beyond the entreaties of the White House spin machine, it's hard to fathom what the administration is up to with its budget proposal. Obama seemed like he understood the 2010 midterm message and seemed like he understood the necessity of real fiscal restraint, but then he comes out with a budget so unserious and so emblematic of liberal statism that not even Democrats are defending it.
Lefty blogger Greg Sargent helps out here, explaining:
There is the camp that says he has needlessly capitulated to the GOP's anti-government rhetoric and has effectively ceded the game to the GOP by throwing in the towel on the very idea that stimulus spending is necessary for job creation . . . . In the second camp are those who argue Obama is cleverly reframing a battle with built-in advantages for the GOP. . . .And as I've noted already, they think they will succeed in moving the argument beyond the GOP's preferred frame -- "big" versus "small" government" -- once the discussion focuses more on the specifics of what the GOP wants to cut, leading the public to prefer Obama's vision.
Hard as it is to believe, the White House, much as it did on the ObamaCare debate, has apparently talked itself into believing the public doesn't care all that much about the size of government, isn't much concerned with spillage of red ink, and thinks the name of the game is -- as Bill Clinton did in very different economic and political time -- to paint the Republicans as heartless budget cutters.
It also reveals, as many of us suspected, that Obama's posturing during the lame duck session and the hiring of some new staff in the White House did not represent a fundamental shift in the White House's agenda or philosophy. The Obama team is composed of people who think government spending creates prosperity, who have no fear that tax hikes will choke off economic growth, and who believe the electorate won't notice or care that Obama has rejected the 2010 midterm message.
Obama in presenting his budget and revealing the philosophy to which he stubbornly clings has conceded the huge middle of the political spectrum to the Republicans. The Republicans now have the opportunity to cement their gains with independent voters and to rekindle the same excitement in the base that helped the party take 63 seats in the House and 6 Senate seats. If the Republicans play this smartly -- a big if -- they have the chance to lead and to make substantial gains in 2012.
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