Meeting the Moment (…Halfway)

September 9th, 2011

(Slightly) inspired by A bid to energize economy—and his presidency, Obama lays out a $447 billion job-creation plan, and Obama reiterates his mastery of the medium (Washington Post 9/09/11).

“We are tougher than the times that we live in. And we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment.” — President Obama


“I have to say, it was the stemwinder of this president’s term in office… the best speech he’s ever given.”–Fox News’s Lou Dobbs


The speech was great,

The plan only fair.

It’s hard to meet the moment

When you only go halfway there.


In terms of political appeal,

The President went all the way.

But in economic terms,

He gave half the store away.


Obama’s speech and proposal

Were sort of the same

As having the Stones play halftime

At a peewee game.


I wish he’d shown

He was in charge

But at least proposing

Something large.


The problem with Stim 1 and 2

Was that they were too small

The deepening recession

To effectively forestall.


Less than a trillion each

Wasn’t enough then

And I think the same will be

True yet again.


Congressional Republicans

Should therefore be eager

To support a plan

So undeniably meager.


If Repubs are smart,

They’ll approve Obama’s plan as is.

Then if there’s still recession in 2012,

It’ll really be his.


And Mr. President,

Just a friendly reminder:

Sometimes it takes more

Than a stemwinder.


No, my Republican friends, it’s not a trick (I know you hate those). I really think that it would be an act of political genius for you to approve Obama’s plan in toto. You can probably get more deficit cuts (maybe even entitlements) in return, easily offsetting (and probably more so) the budget impact.

But even if you didn’t, it would be a political masterstroke. First, you score some sorely needed reasonability/not-the-Party-of-No points, which would be a big help with Independents in 2012, and wouldn’t hurt you with your base. How so? Even Teabaggers don’t like to admit Republicans are obstructing for obstruction’s sake. Plus, it’s more than half tax cuts, not targeted at the rich like you prefer, but it’s good to throw your working and middle class Tea Party supporters a bone now and then.

Second, and more importantly, Obama’s given you the chance to say (this time honestly) that “hey, we supported your plan and it didn’t work. This is now officially the Obama Recession.” You already make that accusation, of course, but surveys show that most Americans still disbelieve it, and (correctly) still blame Bush for our current economic doldrums. But if you approve Obama’s plan as proposed, he’d basically be accepting ownership. That, my friends, is what’s called a gift horse. 

Maybe that’s Obama’s strategy. He’s trying to make the Republicans an offer that’s so good for them politically, they can’t refuse it. He’s making a big, low-payback, long-odds bet that this extremely modest package will help the economy. A sucker bet, to be sure, but for the economy’s sake, I hope he wins it.

Speaking of halftime performances, here’s the Rolling Stones performing Start Me Up, Rough Justice, and Satisfaction at Superbowl XL, followed by the FSU marching band rendition of You Can’t Always Get What You Want and other Stones hits, and more (lack of) satisfaction from the Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders. No, I didn’t get what I wanted from the President’s speech, nor was I satisfied with his jobs proposal. But hopefully the economy will get what it needs to get started up, and the payroll tax cuts will provide a modicum of rough economic justice and pain relief to the working class.

Here’s Chuck Todd last night on The Last Word reacting to the speech, along with comments from Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, and Al Sharpton. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Washington Post commentator Ezra Klein comment on whether the GOP will support the bill. Ezra is more positive than my immediate reaction was about the plan’s economic impact, as is CBPP president Robert Greenstein. So maybe there is hope…

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Here’s Hardball’s 9/09/11 panel discussion on the President’s speech, the GOP’s reaction to it, and the President’s trip today to Eric Cantor’s district to further sell his plan (watch the crawler for a list of dangerous bridges there).

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Here’s the President’s full speech. Good oratory, but not what I wanted him to say.

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