Everybody Blames Obama

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 21 2011 3:34 PM

Everybody Blames Obama

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It was a busy day for campaign spokesfolk, who had to hit CTRL+P on statements blaming the supercommittee failure on Obama before the other campaigns did. Rick Perry's statement was the most overly dramatic.

Ultimately, responsibility for this failure lays at President Obama's feet. The whole reason a supercommittee was created was because the President wasn't willing to lead, wasn't willing to even put on paper his plans for cutting spending. It's amazing to what lengths he will go to avoid making tough decisions.  And who pays the price for Washington's failure? The American people and our military personnel, who will now be subjected to a half trillion dollars in national defense cuts? The President and Congress should work through the Thanksgiving holidays, work through weekends and recesses to cut federal spending, undo the damage being done to our military personnel and fix the budget mess.
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Interesting that he goes down the "president hates the troops" route. Interesting and clever, because the "President Obama won't solve the debt crisis" complaint continues to animate Robert Samuelson and his D.C. ilk, while boring the pants off of actual voters. My evidence: A November 14 Gallup poll, taken as the supercommittee crunch was on, which asked voters what they were worried about. You'll notice that six percent of voters say they're worried about the debt, six percent say they're worried about a "lack of money," and 66 percent say they're worried about jobs or the economy. These voters are wise. If the economy recovers, more people get jobs, and more tax revenue goes into the Treasury to pay for things.

My new colleague Matthew Yglesias points out that supercommittee failure is, on pure arithematic grounds, great news for deficit hawks. Without the Bush tax cuts being extended, and with no mounting fiscal programs getting adjusted, the deal cuts a lot of money. So there's no logical way to say "failure raises the deficit," and good political reason to say "Obama won't cut popular programs to lower the deficit." Although Mike Bloomberg, who could win a national election if the franchise was limited to Robert Samuelson and friends, seems to think it's worth doing.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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