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Obama vs. the Washington Establishment

In his radio and Internet address on Saturday (above), President Obama boldly -- and accurately -- cast his ambitious and profoundly course-changing budget proposal as an assault on establishment Washington and its entrenched interests.

"I realize that passing this budget won't be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington," he said.

And he made it clear that he is girding for the inevitable backlash: "I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

"So am I.

"The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don't. I work for the American people. I didn't come here to do the same thing we've been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I'll be fighting for in the weeks ahead – change that will grow our economy, expand our middle-class, and keep the American Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the day it began."

It was his boldest acknowledgment yet of what is slowly becoming clear to the rest of us: That his proposals represent such a dramatic reversal from the course the nation has been following over the last eight years -- and even the last three decades -- that they will inevitably face intense resistance from Washington's traditional power centers.

And it's not just industry lobbyists, either, although Obama was most specific about them: "I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families," he said "I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries."

It's arguably almost the entire Washington political and media establishment that finds itself on the defensive. A central part of Obama's message, in both his budget and his address to a joint session of Congress last week, has been that we find ourselves at a "day of reckoning" not out of bad luck or by happenstance, but as the direct result of Washington's profound irresponsibility.

It's worth revisiting Obama's explanation of "how we arrived at this moment" from that joint address:

"The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for.

"And though all of these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before. In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.

"A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations... were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day."

The inevitable conclusion here is that establishment Washington is complicit in what went wrong. That includes all the people in positions of power who accepted what was happening as simply politics as usual -- even as the country was slowly but inevitably headed to that day of reckoning.

After all, since the Reagan era, even mainstream Democratic leaders have internalized the trickle-down, free-market, small-government mentality which Obama now blames for our woes. Few in the Democratic party -- or the mainstream media -- did much more than watch as the economic playing field tilted further and further to the advantage of the rich.

And yes, it's true that many of Obama's initiatives could well be described as pent-up Democratic goals. But you might also call them nearly-forgotten goals, as far as the current batch of Democratic leaders is concerned. Even when they controlled Congress, they failed to block budgets that turned out to be blueprints for disaster. And they either didn't fight for their principles or flinched in a pinch. I described some of their capitulations to former president George W. Bush in this December 2007 column. These very same leaders may well be motivated to -- at least -- complicate or modify Obama's proposals to validate their own previous inaction.

David E. Sanger of the New York Times sees how dramatic Obama's thinking is, writing that it may be "a postmodern, post-Clinton form of liberalism....

"If Johnson's rallying cry was an end to poverty in the world's richest nation, Mr. Obama's is an end to the Reagan Revolution. With the proposed tax increases on couples making more than $250,000, Mr. Obama has declared that trickle-down economics — the theory that the entire country benefits as the nation's richest amass and spend — was a fantasy. He denounced it in moral terms, declaring in his budget that 'there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few.'"

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column that Obama has "transformed the terms of the nation's debate.

"The central issue in American politics now is whether the country should reverse a three-decade-long trend of rising inequality in incomes and wealth."

So is the resistance to Obama's plans building in Washington? It sure is.

Business interests won't take this lying down. Greg Hitt and Jesse Drucker write in the Wall Street Journal: "'You don't build a house by blowing up its foundation,' said Bruce Josten, the [U.S. Chamber of Commerce]'s executive vice president for government affairs, who contended the plan would penalize small businesses and entrepreneurs....

"Exxon Mobil Corp. and other U.S. oil and gas companies would pay $31.4 billion in taxes over the next 10 years under a proposal to eliminate or scale back a range of tax-production incentives currently available to the industry. The energy industry is also a big beneficiary of a tax-accounting principle -- known as LIFO, or last-in-first-out -- which would be repealed, raising $61 billion.

"A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said higher taxes 'make it more difficult to invest in new energy supplies that are necessary to meet future demand.'"

(And yes, that's the same Exxon that posted an all-time record $45.2 billion in profits last year.)

Military contractors are running scared. Christopher Drew writes in the New York Times: "The big contractors 'are sitting on the edge of their seats,' said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University in Washington and an expert on the defense budget."

Polluters are gnashing their teeth. John M. Broder writes in the New York Times: "Business lobbies and many Republicans raised loud objections to the cap-and-trade program Mr. Obama proposed as part of his budget this week, saying the plan amounted to a gigantic and permanent tax on oil, electricity and manufactured goods, a shock they said the country could not handle during economic distress."

The health-care industry is gearing up for a possible epic confrontation. Robert Pear writes in the New York Times: "The powerful interests that dominate the health care industry could challenge even Mr. Obama's political deftness."

And the prospects in Congress are decidedly mixed.

Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles illustrates the Capitol Hill bottleneck.

David Lightman writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "President Barack Obama's ambitious plans will face immediate political difficulty in a wary — and often parochial — Congress that's long resisted such fast, radical change.

"It's not only lawmakers who tend to resist overturning the status quo. An army of lobbyists, grassroots interests, campaign contributors and others who make up insider Washington await, all eager to express their views on why Obama's plans need to be amended, if not defeated.

"'He's going to get it from all sides,' said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington budget watchdog group."

The New York Times warns of problems from both sides of the aisle. Peter Baker writes: "Some of his ideas have attracted criticism across party lines. Republicans deride the overall plan as a 'job killer' intended to revive class warfare, soak the rich and burden business too much at a time of economic hardship. The plan means 'the era of big government is back,' said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader...

"Certain provisions in Mr. Obama's plan may strike special interests, but they also affect favored programs for Democrats as well as Republicans.

"Senators Kent Conrad and Byron L. Dorgan, both North Dakota Democrats, for instance, declared opposition to Mr. Obama's proposal to phase out agricultural subsidies for farmers with gross receipts over $500,000.

"Mr. Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, said some tax increases on high-income workers 'may well not survive' and expressed concern about the buildup of debt."

Jo Biddle writes for AFP: "Republicans Sunday signaled they are ready to seize a gauntlet thrown down by US President Barack Obama over his whopping 3.55 trillion dollar budget, heralding a bruising Congress battle ahead...

"'What we see in this budget, frankly, is an attempt, again, to try and stimulate the economy through government expenditure. And, you know, at best what that can do is redistribute wealth,' Republican House minority whip Eric Cantor told ABC...

"Influential radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, giving the keynote address at a leading conservative conference on Saturday, slammed the new administration's approach.

"'Ronald Reagan used to speak of a shining city on a hill. Barack Obama portrays America as a soup kitchen and some dark night in a corner of America that's very obscure,' he said."

Newsweek sees a Pelosi problem for Obama. Holly Bailey writes that various tensions have left Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "with a complicated relationship that hovers somewhere between friend and frenemy."

The Washington Post sees the central political battle as one over cost. Lori Montgomery writes: "As Congress this week begins reviewing Obama's request, Republicans are blasting the proposal as a historic and irresponsible enlargement of the federal bureaucracy that ultimately will force Obama to break his pledge to avoid a broad-based tax increase....

"Democratic congressional leaders say they expect to endorse Obama's agenda in April. But they warned that it will not be easy and predicted that a proposal to limit tax deductions taken by the wealthy for charitable giving, mortgage interest and other items may not survive."

So.

What would be Obama's most effective strategies when it comes to fighting -- and beating -- the Washington establishment? I'll have some thoughts about that tomorrow. In the meantime, I welcome yours, in comments.

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 2, 2009; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Obama v. D.C.  
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Comments

He needs to keep taking the message to the folks who voted for this kind of change...Washington won't listen to him, but they sure will listen to the voters....

Posted by: constwkr | March 2, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

And those who voted for him need to keep taking the message to their Congresspeople and Senators. There needs to be a whithering fire of letters, faxes and emails. Otherwise, all is lost as Congress dithers it all away.

Mr. Obama also needs to wield his Veto pen.

Posted by: kcsphil | March 2, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

His best strategy for winning the inside game is to not play it. Instead, appeal to the public. Keep putting his case to the American people and ask them to contact their Congressperson. He might set up a web site that facilitates individuals contacting their Congressperson.

You may recognize this as the advocacy strategy used by those who have little power against entrenched interests. That's right. When you realize you lose every time you play the inside game, stop playing that game. Instead, make your case to the public, in terms the public can understand. This is principled and relevant and it can win.

A related advocacy strategy: expose the inside interests. Show the checks. Connect the dots for the American people. When those "Harry and Louise" ads arrive, show the production schedule, the money that changed hands, the tools of manipulation, the interests being protected. Strip away the video fiction and show the ugly reality underneath. If Clinton had had the guts to that, we might well have decent health care coverage today.

Posted by: jpk1 | March 2, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

JPK1...
You're right...Clinton backed down and the health care mess only got worse....and Obama was 110% correct last week by saying it couldn't wait even 1 more year...his overall budget plan reflects what we've neglected for all the years he mentioned....we're in a huge mess and sadly it's gonna cost huge dollars to repair the damage.

Posted by: constwkr | March 2, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

As the Commander & Preacher once said, "you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig". Welfare is welfare is welfare is welfare is....well I guess that depends on what is is .. (Right Bill?)
Socilism is welfare is socialism is welfare
is .....

Posted by: bob62 | March 2, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Bob...
Did you have something intelligent to add to the discussion?

Posted by: constwkr | March 2, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama still increased the military budget when we already spend more than all the other countries in the world... COMBINED! Talk about not taking on the Washington Establishment -- Obama is afraid to offend the entrenched interests in the Pentagon.

On a related note (of being afraid of offending entrenched interests) Obama's DOJ is making ludicrious arguments in a series of cases related to extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretapping by supporting the extra-Constitutional powers taken by the Bush Cabal. It seems Obama does not want to shed light on the crimes of the past 8 years. Instead, he is making his Administration complicit in those crimes.

Obama talks a good game, but he is weak where it counts.

Posted by: winoohno | March 2, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse


I agree with constwkr that by taking it to the people is Obama's strength. But we also need to change the narrative. This is a new era of shared responsibility.

Our representatives are bombarded by lobbyists and special interests to make bad policy decisions. CEOs and executives are driven by pure-profit gains. They are under the impression profit trumps all else: consumers, workers, environment and community interests. However public safety, environmental concerns, morality, social responsibility and profit are not incompatible.

So instead of pitting democrats against republicans it might be more effective to frame it in terms such as the American people vs special interests:


* insurance companies
* banks and student lending companies
* oil and gas companies
* pharmaceutical companies

Insofar as tax-cuts, Obama's WH Press Secretary answer to a reporter who questioned the wisdom of "raising taxes" vs the Republican's premise that higher taxes are job-killers:

'How do you explain last month's unemployment figures -- 550,000 jobs lost -- under the current tax rates?'

The republicans' complaint about a bill that allows Bush's tax-cuts to expire -- which they say would constitute the largest tax-increase in history -- is the bill they, the republicans, wrote.
Class-warfare and redistributing wealth are redherrings.

Adjusting the tax code to create a safety net for Americans is a shared responsibility.

Obama understands that reducing inequality leads to prosperity for all which is why talking to and educating people outside Washington is so important.


Posted by: serena1313 | March 2, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama is moving as much as he can against the wall of the Washington status quo. The pigs have had a feeding frenzy at the trough the last many years, and none of them wants to give it up. I have to trust, because he's been right on everything so far, that Obama knows the extent of the Bush crimes, and is only letting them unravel slowly so that they don't traumatize the country completely before our economic recovery is underway. Same with the military/industrial complex, making money hand over fist from the various wars. If he insisted on his own schedule instead of being willing to compromise, he'd have a pitched battle that would keep him from tending to the country. A really smart commander picks his battles, and only fights one--the key one of the moment--at a time. As far as I can tell, Obama is doing just that. Brilliant strategy, I think.

Posted by: shaman7214 | March 2, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Look, like alot of things that Obama does this is pure political posturing, and absolute hogwash.

Obama is playing the same game that has been played for 200 years. His stimulus package contained earmarks which benefited some to the detriment of others. I am sure that the companies that benefited from those earmarks contributed heavily to Obama's election campaign. Before you parrot the bald faced lie that Obama didn't take corporate donations, ask yourself if it matters whether I write a personal check to a candidate or if the company I own writes out that check. Because Obama's claim about where his money comes from rests on exactly this distinction that one is 'clean' and the other 'dirty'.

By setting this up as outsider versus insider, Obama is trying to get what he wants. His playbook is getting a little obvious. You agree with him, you have the peoples best interest at heart. You disagree then you are on the dole to big corporate money, or a Washington insider. There is no such thing as a principled disagreement, if you disagree with the white house, you have been bought and sold by the evil agents of capitalism lining their pockets with the gold of hard working Americans.

Frankly this is:

1, a joke.

and

2, The same strategy Bush and Cheney used, except for them if you disagreed with them you were not in the pocket of big business, you were unpatriotic, and unamerican.

So frankly Obama hasn't changed the rules of Washington, he is just playing the game, making sure his people get paid. Its just that his people happen to be a different set of people than Bush and Cheney funneled money too.

If it wasn't so sad, I would lol........

Posted by: DCDave11 | March 2, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I would say that Obama's strength is found in populism and in his message of extending democracy to all social strata. Everyone needs some education, some health care, and some renewable/sustainable energy. Everyone has a stake in the outcome. When our political system is manipulated by powerful lobbyists and special interest groups, someone gets left behind. Obama's brilliant budget helps all levels of society.

The trickle-down theory is greatly flawed. Nothing trickled. The wealthy class accumulated more; the middle-class fell behind. It is the middle-class that elected Obama. It is the middle-class that said "we want change in politics." Remember everyone who has lost money in life savings, now has a stake in producing meaningful, sustainable change in the economy. Trickle-down econ (AKA VOODOO economics) is done.

Posted by: rmorris391 | March 2, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

"'You don't build a house by blowing up its foundation,' said Bruce Josten, the [U.S. Chamber of Commerce]'s executive vice president for government affairs, who contended the plan would penalize small businesses and entrepreneurs....'


You do if its foundation consists entirely of termites, rats and other creeping vermin.

Posted by: thrh | March 2, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

serena1313....
I could not agree more....fixing this country should not be a republican or democratic fix...it NEEDS to be America's leaders coming together, reaching across the partisan divide and fixing it....having Rush Limbaugh spouting his nonsense about hoping the President's plans fail is not the answer...nor is Republican's who differ with Rush Limbaugh finding a reason or need to apologize...they need to tell him to sit down and shut up...and the be willing to admit that the greater need exceeds anyone's political agenda....the fix will require huge spending...and reversing the Bush tax cuts will not be the end of the world...not doing something however will be, and more tax cuts is clearly not the fix...that's what helped to get us into this mess...

Posted by: constwkr | March 2, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

thrh...
the chamber is ONE of the special interest groups Obama has mentioned...they are entrenched and used to getting their way..which is a way that is best for the elite and not everyone else...I've always loved that one line from the Star Trek movie...and someone else said it before then...

The needs of the many far outweigh the needs of the few...or the 1....right now the few and the many need help...and if you're one of the 1's that can't comprehend this...then you are simple minded and like Rush...totally out of touch...

Posted by: constwkr | March 2, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"After all, since the Reagan era...Few in the Democratic party -- or the mainstream media -- did much more than watch as the economic playing field tilted further and further to the advantage of the rich"

This is an uncharacteristically irresponsible statement. Who are the "few"? Who are you blaming? Let us not forget that the Clinton economic plan made major strides. The first element on the Clinton agenda was Family and Medical Leave. The first item on the 2006 Democratic Congress agenda was an increase in the minimum wage.

Democrats have their Schumers and their Rangels and their Murkas and their Dingells who have gotten a little bit cozy here and there, and their milquetoast Daschles and Gepharts. But our economy and culture fell around our ankles because of a failure of Republican ideas and ideals. Keep the blame where it belongs.

Posted by: chase-truth | March 2, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, I forgot to add Harry Reid to the milquetoast list in my previous post. Anyway, when Obama says "Washington" he means Republicans and K-Street and those few Democrats who forgot where they live. But postpartisanship doesn't mean we have to paint all the public servants in Washington with the same broad brush.

Posted by: chase-truth | March 2, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

chase-truth...
Hey..I'm agreeing with you bro...for years we've looked after the "1"...the rich and famous...and neglected the many and the few...the economy is in the tank due to the Republican agenda...you need to look no further than the Rush mindset...that is what has guided this Nation for the last 8 years....and intruded into the Clinton years...enough is enough...they need to be sent packing...they need to fold their tents and go home...America both no longer needs them...and more importantly CANNOT AFFORD THEM...Period..

Posted by: constwkr | March 2, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

What Obama needs to do is to explain clearly how his agenda flows from fundamental American values, and how his opponent's agendas corrupt those values. And sunshine laws. And he needs to shift FBI resources back into investigating corruption.

Posted by: chase-truth | March 2, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

this guy is good. we may never have had a leader like him. he may possibly fall on his face in this maelstrom- perhaps the worst in a century; but he is the only game in town. The R's have gone Harding. The D's, as usual, have gone wimpy.

We must give this remarkable guy a chance.

Posted by: auntywbush | March 2, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

"And those who voted for him need to keep taking the message to their Congresspeople and Senators"

Any who paid for those congressmen (and even Obama) to take that message to the chambers of congress on good will... to get your vote?

You voted, but didn't pay for it. They will listen to the folks that paided for them. Obama, Pelosi, The repubs, the dems... follow the money and you'll see the decision fall in place.

Note the repubs had the K Street lobbyists. Dems had the Unions and corporations. Obama has the 527 groups that masked themselves as "representing the people", yeah right, to all those cases.

Posted by: recharged95 | March 2, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

When it came to stupid expensive war in Iraq Americans lined up behind Bush. We got what we deserved. Obama won the popular vote in a decisive election, (unlike his predecessor). If we Americans cannot line up behind our elected president who is delivering on his campaign promises and support his policies well,... we'll get what we deserve.

Posted by: drum_sing | March 2, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

recharged95, I agree completely. I think that if people actually looked at the list of donors to Obama's PACs they would be shocked.

Yes you as an individual are only allowed to give 2,000 dollars to the DNC etc..... but people are allowed to give as much as they want to PACs. Obama had to set up more PACs last minute to take in that money. Some of these people gave hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So I guess my question is then, fine this money didn't come from Agri business, Insurance funds etc... obviously because they are the enemy.

Who did the money come from? Maybe companies trying to cash in on 'green' initiatives? People who make Health care data bases, etc...... etc.....

So my guess is that Obama is beholden to plenty of corporate money, its just not the same money it has been for the last 8 years.

Posted by: DCDave11 | March 2, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

DF: "That his proposals represent such a dramatic reversal from the course the nation has been following over the last eight years -- and even the last three decades -- that they will inevitably face intense resistance from Washington's traditional power centers."

Check out the percentages for the Total Contributions of the aforementioned industries, plus a few more.

Interesting ratio .... across the board... see also Health Professionals, Agribusiness, Agricultural Services & Products, Construction, and others ad naseum ....

Those who would want most for `Obama to fail' contributed about 2/3 of their bribes to the GOP.

Note in 2008, contributions even upped a lot.

Apologies in advance if an error in my recording occurred.

Data is from http://www.opensecrets.org/

Oil & Gas
2008: 23% Dem 77% GOP
2006: 18% Dem 82% GOP
2004: 19% Dem 80% GOP
2002: 20% Dem 80% GOP
2000: 21% Dem 79% GOP

Insurance
2008: 45% Dem 55% GOP
2006: 34% Dem 64% GOP
2004: 32% Dem 67% GOP
2002: 31% Dem 69% GOP
2000: 34% Dem 66% GOP

Health
2008: 54% Dem 46% GOP
2006: 37% Dem 62% GOP
2004: 39% Dem 61% GOP
2002: 35% Dem 65% GOP
2000: 39% Dem 60% GOP

Defense
2008: 51% Dem 77% GOP
2006: 38% Dem 60% GOP
2004: 38% Dem 62% GOP
2002: 35% Dem 65% GOP
2000: 35% Dem 65% GOP

Defense Aerospace
2008: 50% Dem 50% GOP
2006: 39% Dem 58% GOP
2004: 36% Dem 64% GOP
2002: 39% Dem 61% GOP
2000: 39% Dem 61% GOP

Pharmaceuticals
2008: 50% Dem 50% GOP
2006: 31% Dem 67% GOP
2004: 34% Dem 66% GOP
2002: 26% Dem 74% GOP
2000: 31% Dem 69% GOP

Commercial Banks
2008: 48% Dem 52% GOP
2006: 38% Dem 62% GOP
2004: 36% Dem 64% GOP
2002: 36% Dem 63% GOP
2000: 36% Dem 63% GOP

Coal Mining
2008: 27% Dem 73% GOP
2006: 16% Dem 84% GOP
2004: 10% Dem 90% GOP
2002: 11% Dem 89% GOP
2000: 12% Dem 88% GOP

Chemical & Related Manufacturing
2008: 37% Dem 63% GOP
2006: 21% Dem 76% GOP
2004: 21% Dem 78% GOP
2002: 22% Dem 78% GOP
2000: 21% Dem 79% GOP

Posted by: abhinavagupta | March 2, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Gobama! give them hell. we need someone to represent the people, not the special interest group. even the msm does not represent us people. they are going to bring out the big guns to shoot down O's agenda. we need to fight them.

Posted by: JoeBridgeman | March 2, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

This is the best news I've heard in years!

It looks like we'll have to spend a lot of time on the Post's editorial page posting comments to counteract the inevitable Fred Hiatt editorials attacking Obama. Poor Fred, he doesn't handle this kind of change well and it looks like he's in for some major change.

We have your back President Obama! Go for it!

Posted by: pmorlan1 | March 2, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

President Obama should take what he can get this year - which is probably most, but not all of what is in his budget. Try for more next year. In 2010 we will get another 5-6 Senate seats and we can get the rest of the President's program passed. After the 2012 election we should have enough seats in the House and Senate to initiate constitutional amendments. Getting them passed in 3/4 of the states will always be a problem.

Posted by: dickdata | March 3, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

mr froomkin:

you ask what you should be considering in regard to obama admin budget.

all you need is a coupla sharp pencils, a dollar-store calculator and the link to the Congressional Budget Office 1979-2005 data on pre-tax income, after-tax income, share of national income and sources of income for past 25 years for (a) each of income quintiles and (b) top 5% and top 1% income groups: http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=8885

you don't need to be distracted by all of the talking heads on cable TV or inflamed partisan opinions. it has nothing to do with anyone's opinion or 'social values'; it's just simple mathematics. 15 minutes of noodling will tell you all you need to know about what the so-called conservative movement (as ballyhooed by all the slick and deep-pocket conservative 'think tank' propaganda factories) has really been all about.

in the end, it's exactly what Deep Throat advised the Washington Post to do when investigating politicians so many years ago -- follow the money.

hope this helps.

Posted by: ithejury | March 3, 2009 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Massive tax increases on business makes sense when the unemployment level is this high, especially when the U.S. already has the second highest tax rate on businesses in the industrial world. I mean you libs do realize that businessses employ people right? You realize that not everyone works for the government right? But, hey, no problem, Obamas huge increase in goverment will requires hundreds of thousands of new goverment works. So we may all wind up working for the government since it'll be the only thing left.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 3, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

It's the economy stupid. President Obama should frame his argument in economic terms, the big interests/corporations vs. the common people's economic interests.

When the oil companies whine that they need billions in tax credits, the President should respond that they can use the $85 billion in profits they earned the last two years.
When the military industrial complex complains about procurement cuts, cite the billions tax payers paid in the last decade for weapons systems that are not needed (see additional F-22s).
In answer to medical insurance complaints about competition, quote the rising premiums we've paid for reduced coverage.
If the pharceutical have the gaul to whine, show how much in overpayments they've received by writing into the medicare expansion law that the government cannot negotiate the lowest price for presciption drugs.
The taxpayers have paid these interest groups billions, the President should hammer that fact in every speech. It is now time for them to get less by giving back. "You had your time (and largess), now it's the peoples' time."
IT'S THE PEOPLES' TIME. Could be a theme!

Posted by: walterzz | March 3, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Just read the comments here and you have a picture of the American electorate; they bought "yes we can!" and "I represent change!" without having the slightest idea how this glib (we used to regard him as brilliantly articulate) left-liberal speaker means to change the system using academic economists and Barney Frank as mentors. How many of the elected congress or Obama himself have ever battled for survival in our democratic-capitalistic system? They're all decision makers for 308mm citizens passing laws that define "fairness" for the rest of us. Let's hope they don't screw it up too badly.

Posted by: pierre300 | March 6, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

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