March 8, 2013

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The Beltway was jumping for joy over the news that Obama and Republicans were seen holding hands and going out on a dinner date. Hey, the wedding is still on, whispered the new wave of Broders.
However, the new Politico piece then veers off into a dark and dank place indeed, sooo----Say it ain't so.

A lull in the deadline-driven budget battles could soon give way to a fresh round of fiscal crises — from rising public pressure to lift the sequester to a looming summer deadline to increase the debt limit. If the president is to have any hope of resolving either fight to his liking, he’ll need more revenue. But Republicans won’t even consider it unless entitlement reforms are on the table.

So after more than two months in hiding, talk of a grand bargain has suddenly resurfaced in Washington.

Obama is doing things he’s never done — like dine out this week with a dozen Republican senators at a meal in which they talked fiscal issues, invite House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to the White House for lunch — and to re-engage with lawmakers after almost two years of campaigning against them.

“This week, we’ve gone 180,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday. “After being in office now for four years, he’s actually going to sit down and talk to members.”

To me, this piece is more Beltway gossip than fact. And the truth is that the Villagers are the biggest supporters for a Grand Bargain and never stop trying to slant their coverage accordingly. Last week the reports were that the Grand Bargain was dead. Now with a lull in the news after Rand-Paulvision ended comes the new news that the GB is back on table. Seriously, beltway media Gods?

I wrote for years that the President should have taken to the airwaves immediately after the stimulus was passed to explain to Americans the challenges we faced as a nation and set his own agenda, but his team chose to overstate the impact the stimulus would have and then moved on to join the deficit reduction choirboys.

Economist Dean Baker believes the same thing:

He could have told the country the truth. He could have said what all his advisers claim they told him at the time: the stimulus was not large enough and we would likely need more. He could have used his presidency to explain basic economics to the public and the reporters who cover budget issues.
He apparently thought the best route to get more stimulus was to convince the deficit hawks that he was one of them. He proudly announced the need to pivot to deficit reduction after the passage of the stimulus and then appointed two deficit hawks, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, to head a deficit commission.

This set the ball rolling for the obsession with deficit reduction that has dominated the nation’s politics for the last three years. Instead of talking about the 9 million jobs deficit the economy faces, we have the leadership of both parties in Congress arguing over the debt-to-GDP ratios that we will face in 2023.

I do blame Obama's advisers for not owning the bully pulpit on the economy from the beginning, but we are where we are now.

The Politico piece makes Republicans seem like the mighty and powerful Oz, and that's because of the dreadful sequester deal that went through, but it refrains from telling us how teabirchers thwarted any kind of a Grand Bargain before and will do it again unless President Obama gives away the store for pennies.

Obama seemed to be stronger at negotiations after he won his second term so he will have to keep strong, but the fact that he's wanted a Grand Bargain to hold his legacy hat on is not encouraging. Chained CPI and other cuts to entitlements have been offered up to the pain merchants, but they still haven't bitten the entitlement apple yet. Let's hope Senate Democrats stand tall on protecting America's safety nets --like Bernie Sanders, who said today on MSNBC that entitlements cuts will not be tolerated. We should be expanding Social Security like Duncan has been saying and not cutting it. Expand Social Security

Nancy Pelosi didn't mince words either:

Republicans are only half of the equation, and a large-scale deficit deal will almost certainly need Democrats to pass the House. Although Republican and Democratic insiders think Obama’s party will fall in line, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn’t ready to roll over.

Pelosi on Thursday said reforming Social Security alongside tax reform would be a nonstarter — effectively ruling out chained CPI, a Republican favorite.

Pelosi said that raising the Medicare eligibility age is a “scalp” and “trophy” for Republicans that “doesn’t produce any money.” Pelosi seemed to think that the meetings Obama was holding were a waste of time: Republicans don’t seem to be moving toward Obama.

When will the Politico write a piece that actually tries to figure out America's economic woes instead of pimping for a Grand Bargain? Oy, these budgetary issues are a drag politically for everyone involved including web traffic. The sequester not only hurt people around the country, but it's dragging down our traffic, as well. Buzzfeed: The Sequester Is Terrible For Traffic.

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