Worried congressional Democrats say the President needs to use his bully pulpit to counter defections in Democratic ranks, such as the ten Democrats and one allied Independent who on Wednesday voted against a Senate leadership plan to cut $6.2 billion from the federal budget over the rest of fiscal year 2011. They want Obama to grab the initiative and push a plan to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies and for companies that move manufacturing facilities out of the country, and a proposal for a surtax on millionaires.
Most importantly, they’re worried the President’s absence from the debate will result in Republicans winning large budget cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year – large enough to imperil the fragile recovery.
But Obama won’t actively fight the budget battle if the current White House view of how he wins in 2012 continues to prevail.
Shortly after the Democrats’ “shellacking” last November, I phoned a friend in the White House who had served in the Clinton administration. “It’s 1994 all over again,” he said. “Now we move to the center.”
The supposed parallel between 2010 and 1994 is something of an article of faith in the Obama White House. That’s partly because so many of President Barack Obama’s current aides worked for Bill Clinton and vividly recall Clinton’s own shellacking in 1994. It’s also because the Clinton story had a happy ending, at least electorally. The fact that Bill Clinton went on to win re-election is a source of comfort to the current White House as it looks ahead to 2012.
From this, many in the Obama White House have concluded that the president should follow Clinton’s campaign script — distancing himself from congressional Democrats, embracing further deficit reduction, and seeking guidance from big business. If it worked for Clinton, it must work for Obama — or so it’s supposed.
The superficial logic that so often passes for thought in Washington typically sees causation where there’s only correlation. In fact, there’s no reason to believe that Clinton’s lurch rightward at the start of 1995 is what won him re-election the following November. He was re-elected because of the strength of the economic recovery. MORE...
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Reich: "Why Obama Isn’t Fighting the Budget Battle"