The President unveiled his deficit reduction plan yesterday, and in the process removed any doubt that he is in full campaign mode. Coming on the heels of his combative” jobs plan” address to Congress, the President’s Rose Garden “deficit reduction” speech was clearly designed to distinguish his economic and political agenda from that of his conservative opponents.
The President went right at the Republicans, calling for the closing of corporate tax loopholes, elimination of the Bush tax cuts, and increasing taxes on the country’s most affluent. To bring home the point he declared that he would veto any bill that does not include increases in revenues; a challenge certain to incense conservatives.
Democrats, desperately seeking the Obama that they elected in 2008, praised the President’s bold plan and strength of conviction. For the first time in his Presidency Obama started a negotiation from the progressive left rather than the conservative right of center.
Republicans responded as expected, dismissing the President’s plan a “campaign bumper sticker”.
The Republicans got it right. This was not a presidential speech about governing and the economy; it was a campaign speech about candidate Obama’s political agenda.
The President knows that neither his jobs plan nor his deficit reduction proposal have a snowballs chance in hell of passing through Congress. Why would he believe anything else? Republicans have consistently shown that they will go to any measure to defeat him…even to the point of taking the economy to default. Any thought of their giving him a victory this close to the election is naïve and short sighted.
The President took off his Compromiser-in-Chief hat and donned his Campaigner-in-Chief helmet. For the first time since his election he went on the offensive. He backed the Republicans into a corner. They can either accept his plan and join him in ownership of a bad economy… or they can fight him and watch as he takes to the stump and repeats over and over again: “Republicans would rather defeat me than help you. They would rather watch you struggle to get by than increase taxes on millionaires and billionaires.”
It is unfortunate that the President didn’t have this fight three years ago when he had the chance to push his agenda through a Democratic controlled Congress. It is even more depressing to think that we will have to wait fourteen months for the next election before anything substantive is done to fix the economy.