Obama on the Economy

A blog about business and economics.
June 14 2012 3:14 PM

Obama on the Economy

I listened to the president's speech on the economy and thought it was . . . long. What's odd is that he started the very long speech with the observation that the contrast between his vision and Mitt Romney's is stark.

And he's right.

Advertisement

If you wanted a concise version of the speech it's this. Obama thinks there are a lot of worthwhile things the public sector does—give old people health insurance and pensions, build transportation infrastructure, finance K-12 schools, subsidize college tuition—and that in order to pay for those things we should raise taxes on high-income people. Romney thinks that higher taxes on high-income people people would be really bad for economic growth and that Obama is overestimating the value of these public sector undertakings so we should cut them instead.

Unfortunately, far and away the least plausible portions of the speech were the ones where Obama tried to explain how re-electing him would lead to his vision becoming law. He's quite persuasive on the point that an Obama re-election would block Romney from doing various perhaps-objectionable things. But the idea that a second term for Obama will change the fact that 41 Republican Senators can and will filibuster any Obama ideas that they don't like (i.e., basically all of them) doesn't add up. Fundamentally, the very depth of the divide between the parties that Obama highlighted at one point in the speech makes it extremely unlikely that the other stuff he was talking about will happen. Sharp polarization, party discipline, and a political process with many veto points just don't go very well together.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?