When President Obama’s fiscal commission offers its proposals on Wednesday, after the release by several liberal groups of their own debt-busting plans this week, the essential decision facing Mr. Obama in these last two years of his term will have been neatly framed. He can side either with centrist reformers in both parties, who would overhaul both cherished entitlements and the tax system, or with traditional liberals, who prefer new levies on the wealthy and substantial cuts in military spending.Howie P.S.: In spite of his standing as #29 on Salon's "Hack 30" list of political pundits, there may be something here of value. However, I was out for a walk a little while ago and Barack was still sitting on that fence.
In other words, the suddenly pressing issue of the debt will force Mr. Obama to choose, at last, between the dueling, ill-defined promises of his presidential campaign — between a “postpartisan” vision of government on one hand and a liberal renaissance on the other.
Partisans on either side in Washington, of course, would tell you that Mr. Obama has already made this decision — although they differ on which side he’s chosen.
Republicans depict the president as having governed just to the left of Hugo Chávez, nationalizing companies while centralizing power in the hands of the federal bureaucracy. Liberals complain that Mr. Obama has time and again abandoned his party’s principles in search of some centrist consensus that doesn’t exist, and they point to his creating a bipartisan fiscal commission as a case in point.
In truth, though, Mr. Obama has almost invariably sought to position himself halfway between traditionalism and reform, just as his vague notions of “hope” and “change” during the 2008 campaign were meant to appeal simultaneously to both disaffected independent voters and core progressives. And in virtually every case, he has satisfied pretty much no one. MORE...
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Matt Bai: "Debt-Busting Issue May Force Obama Off Fence"
Matt Bai (NY Times):