An article in Politico about President Obama’s deficit speech, by Carrie Budoff Brown and Ben Smith, starts with the line, “President Barack Obama finally gave his liberal critics exactly what they wanted.” I want to make it clear that in no way was this deficit speech what I wanted.
With unemployment over 9 percent and Treasury bonds incredibly low, I never wanted Obama to make the absurd pivot to the deficit, the polling shows neither did the American people. I wanted him focused on the issue of jobs and the housing mess. I wanted him to address the pressing problems of getting people back to work right away and providing immediate help to those hurt by the downturn, instead of worrying about the long term deficit projections.
I never wanted Obama to waste months seeking fruitless Grand Bargains with the Republicans. Nor did I want him repeatedly signalling he would support big cuts to the very popular safety-net programs.
I’m relieved Obama didn’t endorse major benefits cuts like raising the Medicare retirement age or changing the Consumer Price Index (CPI), because I thought such a move would be disastrous for millions of Americans and would destroy everything about what the Democratic Party used to stand for. I’m still very unhappy the speech contained some benefit cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
The fact that after years of making the wrong decisions, Obama decide to take one small step back from the precipice by not committing the politically suicidal act of publicly demanding major cuts to Medicare doesn’t at all mean progressives got what they wanted.