Obama’s Pivot To The Economy: More Of The Same

As expected, President Obama's latest "pivot" to the economy is less than meets the eye.

Obama Pivot

As I suspected, the speech today that marked President Obama’s much vaunted, and eighth, “pivot” back to the economy was pretty much just a rehash of what he’s been saying all along:

GALESBURG, Ill. — President Obama tried to move past months of debate over guns, surveillance and scandal on Wednesday and reorient his administration behind a program to lift a middling economy and help middle-class Americans who are stuck with stagnant incomes and shrinking horizons.

Returning to the site of his first major economic speech as a young senator eight years ago, Mr. Obama lamented that typical Americans had been left behind by globalization, Wall Street irresponsibility and Washington policies, while the richest Americans had accumulated more wealth. He declared it “my highest priority” to reverse those trends, while accusing other politicians of not only ignoring the problem but also making it worse.

“With this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington’s taken its eye off the ball,” Mr. Obama told an audience at Knox College. “And I am here to say this needs to stop. This needs to stop. This moment does not require short-term thinking. It does not require having the same old stale debates. Our focus has to be on the basic economic issues that matter most to you — the people we represent.”

The hourlong speech, one of the longest of his presidency, resembled a State of the Union address at times. The president mainly offered revived elements of his largely stalled economic program, like developing new energy, rebuilding manufacturing, spending more on roads, bridges and ports, expanding preschool to every 4-year-old in the country and raising the minimum wage.

But he and his aides hoped to use the speech both to claim credit for the progress made since the recession of 2008-9 and to position himself as the champion of a disaffected middle class that has yet to recover fully.

He chastised Republicans in Congress for not focusing on economic priorities and obstructing his initiatives. “Over the last six months, this gridlock has gotten worse,” he said.

And he challenged them to come up with their own plans. “I’m laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot,” he said, addressing himself to Republican leaders. “So now it’s time for you to lay out your ideas.”

(…)

Senior advisers to the president said he frequently refers to his first speech at Knox College in 2005, long before the economic crisis that seized the country three years later. They said Mr. Obama was eager to discuss how much had changed in the nation’s economy since that first speech.

“Now, today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back,” Mr. Obama said, citing the recovery of the auto industry, growth in energy sectors, higher taxes on the wealthy, new regulation on banks and 7.2 million more private sector jobs. “Thanks to the grit and resilience and determination of the American people, of folks like you, we’ve been able to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis. We’ve started to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.”

But he said too many Americans had been left behind. He said nearly all of the income gains of the past 10 years had gone to the richest 1 percent of Americans, and said the average chief executive had seen raises totaling 40 percent since 2009, while the average American earned less than in 1999

“This growing inequality, it’s not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics,” he said. “Because when middle-class families have less to spend, guess what? Businesses have fewer consumers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America, that idea that if you work hard, you can make it here.”

(…)

Still, Mr. Obama gave little sense of how he would change that beyond giving more speeches in the next few weeks if he cannot win more cooperation from Congress. “I will not allow gridlock or inaction or willful indifference to get in our way,” he said. “That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it. Where I can’t act on my own, and Congress isn’t cooperating, I’ll pick up the phone. I’ll call C.E.O.’s, I’ll call philanthropists, I’ll call college presidents, I’ll call labor leaders, I’ll call anybody who can help and enlist them in our efforts.”

As Chris Cillizza points out, though, there wasn’t much new in the President’s speech:

You could be forgiven if you thought you had heard President Obama’s speech on the economy today before. Because you have.  For most of the 2012 campaign. (Don’t trust us, read Obama’s 2012 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.)

Things are getting better in areas like private sector job creation, home construction, energy independence and health care. But, the country isn’t all the way back yet. Republicans are looking out for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. Times need to change.

“With an endless parade of distraction, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama told a crowd at Knox College in Illinois this afternoon. “And I am here to say this needs to stop.” Later in the speech, Obama vowed: “I will not allow gridlock, inaction or willful indifferences to get in our way.”

That’s a nice rhetorical flourish and there are, without doubt, some things that Obama can make happen in regards the economy via executive order. But, to make any major progress — a grand bargain on debt and spending for example — President Obama needs Congress, including the House that remained in GOP hands in 2012 despite his stronger-than-expected victory on the same day.

And, it seems incredibly unlikely that this speech, which Obama gave some version of for virtually the entirety of his 2012 campaign, will change any GOP minds. (Remember that President Obama won with 332 electoral votes in an election that was, at least in part, a referendum on his handling of the economy.)

Take Brendan Buck, press secretary for House Speaker John Boehner, who summed up the President’s message thusly:  ”I’m going to give more speeches.” Or Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer, who tweeted this assessment: “More jobs will be created thru the announcement of the royal baby than thru latest version of this speech.”

To be clear, President Obama and his advisers were almost certainly under no illusion that a single speech — or even lots of speeches — could or would change the basic gridlocked reality that dominates political Washington these dys.

The speech wasn’t really about proposing ideas to help the economy though. As Cillizza goes on to point out, it was a purely political speech designed to position the President and his political party for the upcoming fights over the budget and the debt ceiling that Congress will be dealing with it gets back from the upcoming August recess while at the same time hitting upon the economic message that served him so well during the 2012 elections. Exactly how that’s going to help fix the economy, though, remains a mystery. Indeed, as Annie Lowrey notes, even conceding the point that the President made some good points about the structural changes to the economy that have made a “normal” recovery more difficult, he offers no ideas about how to remedy that situation:

Mr. Obama does not really propose any policy specifics to tackle the structural problems he says he believes remain the greatest challenge to the American middle class – the rising inequality and stagnant wages.

Granted, he’s tried to tackle them before. The Affordable Care Act at its heart taxes the wealthy to provide insurance coverage to lower-income households. His tax bill also raises levies on the rich, while cementing tax cuts for the middle class and working poor. But he has no such specific proposals in this speech, at least, only running through the same broad policy goals he and his team have outlined for some time, for infrastructure spending, education, housing finance and manufacturing.

The reality, of course, is that most of those ideas aren’t going to go anywhere in the 113th Congress, not just because of Republican opposition but because we live in a very different political world than we used to. Put simply, there just isn’t the money in the Federal Budget for massive spending projects anymore and, after the President’s first term stimulus project clearly failed to give a significant boost to the economy there quite simply isn’t the political will to engage in the kind of spending projects that Democrats used to be known for, and there isn’t likely to be any such political will at least until the Federal Budget Deficit is under some kind of reasonable control. More importantly, there’s really no reason to believe at this point that throwing more money at the economy is going to do anything other than create temporary bubbles that will end up causing more harm when they inevitably collapse. Indeed that seems to be exactly what’s happening when it comes to the Federal Reserve Board and its insistence on sticking with a Quantitative Easing policy that seems to be doing little more than creating a stock market bubble that is clearly going to pop once the Fed, as it will required to do as some point, changes its policy. That’s no way to run an economy.

So, don’t expect anything substantive to come from the President’s latest “pivot to the economy,” or from Republicans for that matter. It’s all just part of the same tired political game.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Economics and Business, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Caj says:

    More of the same my eye! The President is sick of Congress as are the people of the country. He’s about to fight fire with fire! About time. Do whatever he can without the idiots in Congress and let the country take care of matters from there come 2014 by kicking the jerks out!

  2. anjin-san says:

    the President’s first term stimulus project clearly failed to give a significant boost to the economy

    Well sure. The fact that we are in a depression more or less proves that. Oh, wait…

  3. bill says:

    he’s strongly into the “lame duck” mode. his healthcare declaration is on life support and his accomplishments are kind of……what? the media are doing their best to squelch anymore scandals but even they need something to print every once in a while. once again, lame duck season is upon us.

  4. edmondo says:

    “I’m laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot,”

    Any chance the middle class – or what’s left of them – can get some Kevlar?

  5. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    If only Obama had the kind of accomplishments his predecessor did. You know, like spending six trillion to turn Iraq into a pro Iran state. Giving his administration a big pat on the back while Katrina’s victims died. Thousands of Americans murdered in the heart of NYC. Taking the economy into freefall.

    Yes, it’s easy to see why you bemoan Obama’s lack of accomplishments.

  6. edmondo says:

    But he said too many Americans had been left behind. He said nearly all of the income gains of the past 10 years had gone to the richest 1 percent of Americans, and said the average chief executive had seen raises totaling 40 percent since 2009, while the average American earned less than in 1999

    He’s going to run against himself in 2014. The chameleon who devoured itself. He’s hilarious or he has balls of steel.

  7. JKB says:

    “With this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington’s taken its eye off the ball,” Mr. Obama told an audience at Knox College.

    Interesting. Joe Scarborough went off on Jay Carney when he used the “phony scandals” line to describe the IRS scandal. Plus, that scandal has gotten quite close to Obama himself with the IRS chief counsel meeting with Obama shortly before the targeting started.

    One has to wonder if this pivot to the economy isn’t a weak attempt to divert. Of course, the MSM will be diverted because they really want something else to talk about. I do wonder how the Dems feel about the economy to the front strategy with the 2014 campaigns just firing up.

    What on earth could calling upon college presidents have to offer? Perhaps they can step up polishing pebbles and dimming diamonds?

    You have no idea how many men are spoiled by what is called education. For the most part, colleges are places where pebbles are polished and diamonds are dimmed. If Shakespeare had graduated at Oxford, he might have been a quibbling attorney, or a hypocritical parson.

  8. James Pearce says:

    So, don’t expect anything substantive to come from the President’s latest “pivot to the economy,” or from Republicans for that matter.

    The only thing I expect from Republicans is making it harder for women to get contraceptives and easier for killers to get guns.

  9. Tillman says:

    I’ll say it again:

    If it seems old, it’s because Republicans haven’t let it happen.

    They’re not even negotiating anymore, even with a President that offers the middle as his opening bid. Instead we have a ludicrous number of bills to repeal Obamacare.

    I love how you have an article about how he’s going to say nothing new, then an article about how he said nothing new, without noting the fact that he can’t say anything new since nothing new has been done since Republicans have begun a program of obstructionism historic and unprecedented.

    And then you chalk it all up to the “same political game” we’re all used to, when in fact these circumstances are born of entirely new factors. Of course, to a libertarian perhaps all these things are deserving of such cynicism, but how can you ignore the arrangement of political variables at play and so easily pronounce it “same $h!t, different day?”

  10. C. Clavin says:

    Obama can’t do anything about bat-shit crazy Republicans.
    Period.
    End of story.
    The economy will muddle along in spite of the tea-baggers efforts at sabotage.
    The middle class will continue to suffer.
    The rich will continue to get richer.

    “…And as long as Congress doesn’t manufacture another crisis — as long as we don’t shut down the government just as the economy is getting traction, or risk a U.S. default over paying bills we’ve already racked up — we can probably muddle along without taking bold action…”

    Not much more is going to happen as long as the Republican caucus insists on insanity as a replacement for governance.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    One has to wonder if this pivot to the economy isn’t a weak attempt to divert.

    No one does not.

    Indeed, the economy is important. The IRS “scandal” is not. If Obama is “diverting” from trivia to something important…..good for him!

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    Plus, that scandal has gotten quite close to Obama himself with the IRS chief counsel meeting with Obama shortly before the targeting started.

    LOL, still holding out hope that “scandal” will gain any traction, eh? Give Issa my regards

  13. Tyrell says:

    “phony scandals”: like sending guns down to Mexico. So many scandals that some of the agencies are farming out some of their work to the KGB.
    “Washington taking its eye off the ball” I guess President Obama means his latest speech with inane and bewildering statements about the Zimmerman trial disaster. Or his trip to Berlin that he turned into a “Time Tunnel” episode when he offered a nuclear weapons reduction to the Russians.
    I was half expecting him to then say ” tear down this wall!!” The president then took off to Africa to hole up until the latest spying scandal blew over. I did not hear in his speech on the economy any reference to monetary policy reform, such as turning off the Treasury printing presses for awhile.
    The next speech he will address he will address the crisis in Egypt and efforts to clear the Suez Canal.

  14. wr says:

    @JKB: “One has to wonder if this pivot to the economy isn’t a weak attempt to divert. ”

    Yes, JKB, the attempt to help tens or even hundreds of millions of Americans is just a diversion from a bunch of phony scandals that nobody with an IQ over six actually cares about.

    Keen political analysis, as usual.

  15. Davebo says:

    @Tyrell:

    What’s the latest spying scandal again?

    Seriously dude. Just because you’ve been clueless (or didn’t care because Dubya set it up) about what’s been happening since 2006 or earlier doesn’t make it so.

    And Doug, seriously, stop digging. This is coming close to your silly commentary on statistics the other day.

  16. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “The next speech he will address he will address the crisis in Egypt and efforts to clear the Suez Canal. ”

    Umm, Tyrell?

    Maybe you’ve noticed… but there is a crisis in Egypt.

    There are still big nuclear stockpiles.

    And yet… there isn’t actually a KGB.

    Why do you even bother getting out of bed in the morning?

  17. Gustopher says:

    Has anyone else noticed a change in tone from Mr. Mataconis? More petulant.

    Is he having a sad that Romney didn’t win (even though he would not stoop to vote for Romney rather than the Libertarian)?

  18. Tillman says:

    @Gustopher: There’s no petulance. It’s just one in a series of repetitions to reinforce his notion of how the world works. If you repeat something often enough, then it is the truth.

    That sounds much harsher than I intend it since it’s something that affects everyone, but all the same you can’t pass the above article as honest, comprehensive analysis. Maybe that’s not what it’s meant to be.

  19. bill says:

    @anjin-san: thx for bringing up the the “blame bush” bs so soon. i don’t recall bush blaming his predecessor for the recession he inherited or the lack of covert ops to squelch the sheetheads and such (he had 8 years to do so and did naught)…..and the economy was booming through 2 wars! but here we are, 5 yrs into it and nobody can roll off the successes of our wonderful administration and boast of all its accomplishments….which we’re all waiting for. oh, did you get a free phone or something?

  20. Tyrell says:

    @Davebo: Actually my frame of reference and political mentality was formed and influenced mainly by events that I experienced and watched in the ’50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I did not vote for or support the policies of “W” Bush. In my opinion the last good leader was Gerald Ford. General Marshall set a standard that all leaders of today need to look at.

  21. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: If only Obama had the kind of accomplishments his predecessor did.

    Thank God we don’t have Dubya’s federal debt. Or unemployment. Or workforce participation. Or breakdown of full-time vs. part-time jobs. Why, that would be just awful.

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Gustopher: Has anyone else noticed a change in tone from Mr. Mataconis? More petulant.

    Actually, I’m noticing a most refreshing change in Mr. Mataconis. For ages his schtick was to say “the Republicans are bad, and here are a bunch of examples.” But every now and then he’d toss in a token “oh, and the Democrats are worse” to shake things up. Now, he’s actually stating the latter more frequently, and giving details.

    It’s not much of a change, but it’s something…

  23. Davebo says:

    @Tyrell:
    Gerald Ford eh?

    Who’d have thunk it. But I probably wouldn’t bring up Leslie Lynch King on a thread about the economy myself. Worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression. And of course the only person ever to serve as both Vice President and President without ever having been elected by the electoral college.

    He was however a pioneer in pardoning obviously guilty politicians. George H.W. carried on that Grand Old Tradition.

  24. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I know! It’s so much fun to be sliding into a hole instead of climbing out of it!

  25. Craig Davis says:

    @anjin-san: Anjin-san: You blame Bush for NYC’s thousands dead, do you blame Obama for Chicago’s thousands (mostly young and black) dead? If not, why not?

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Craig Davis:

    Remind me again when the federal government became responsible for policing Chicago?

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @bill:

    i don’t recall bush blaming his predecessor for the recession he inherited

    Bush took office in January 2001. The 2001 recession began in March 2001. Bush did not “inherit” any recession, since it’s temporally impossible to inherit an event that only began two months after you took office.

  28. anjin-san says:

    @ Craig Davis

    up your meds dude.

  29. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    That’s right! The economy was humming along the day before Obama took office and messed everything up.

    Thank God we don’t have Dubya’s federal debt

    Well, I am more thankful we are not losing 600K jobs a month, that the stock market and real estate market are not in freefall, and that the banking system is not teetering on the brink of collapse.

  30. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    sheetheads

    Why not just tattoo “I am an idiot” on your forehead and make it official?

  31. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    did you get a free phone or something?

    I am quite happy with my iPhone, thanks. I do know some people who are actually poor, and the free phones make their lives, which are pretty hard, a bit easier. I suppose that is a bad thing in your book.

    Spending time around poor people every day has been a real eye opener for me, my upbringing as a spoiled Marin County kid did not really teach me all the facts of life.

    I did get a free phone or two back when I worked in that industry (I was part of the team that developed the original Verizon Wireless website) BTW, the free phones are an extension of an old Reagan program.

  32. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    GW Bush has been out of office for almost five years. You can no longer blame him for anything. The Obama Adminstration has had five years to make changes and has failed. The Democrats are operating from the position that demographic changes will make them the one dominant political party in the future and thus, there is no reason to make real policy proposals or make any compromises with Republicans.

    The future of the politics in the U.S. is a one party state where a ethnic and special interest groups will fight over entitlement spending and who pay for them. The long term question is whether the U.S. can sustain a private sector employed middle class in such a political situation.

  33. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    President Obama could do something to compromise with Republicans: Make an offer that they cannot refuse. If the Obama Administraiton wants comprehensive immigraiton reform, the Democrats could offer up affirmative action for Latinos. If Latinos are coming to the U.S. for freedom and economic opportunity, they should not be eligible for affirmative action, set asides, and quotas. Ending government sponsored discrimination should be an low cost thing for Democrats to go to get comprehensive immigration reform passed.

  34. Tyrell says:

    @bill: “he’s strongly into the lame duck mode” Actually that was his first term. This term is the “lame ostrich” mode.

  35. Rob in CT says:

    We all know it’s pointless because the GOP in the House will block whatever he proposes.

    Having said that, if I were to come up with a wishlist, it would look somewhat different than Obama’s.

  36. JKB says:

    @Rob in CT: We all know it’s pointless because the GOP in the House will block whatever he proposes.

    If only Obama had taken advantage of his time in the Illinois senate or even the Senate to learn how to legislate. Instead, he voted present and was unaccounted for.

    That’s the problem with the bully pulpit. Sooner or later you run across someone who won’t be bullied. Then you have to fall back on your negotiating skills, if you got any.

  37. stonetools says:

    I can imagine Doug is unhappy with mathematicans.
    Those stuck in the mud Mathematicians. For the last 2000 years and more, they’ve been saying, “the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle is equal to the square of the other two sides . Why don’t they have anything new to say about right angled triangles?
    Physicists are just the same. Einstein said E=mc2 108 years ago. Why haven’t they updated that same tired formula?
    The point is that Obama was right the first time; he has no need to change or update his message. He just needs to repeat his message until it cuts through the fog of Republican propoganda.
    Maybe Obama, too, is following the rule set out by Republican consultant Frank Luntz:

    I call this message discipline and without it, we’re doomed as communicators and business people. The best at this skill develop phrases and messages that work and then repeat, repeat, repeat. Ad nauseum. While in certain communications the same, exact words don’t have to be used each and every time, any variations should be very sight and really, it’s safer to stick with the original words. Boring? Yes (to the speaker). But very effective. Sticking with a good message takes determination and, as I mentioned above, discipline.

    Now Democrats and liberals have believed that getting things right and repeating things once is all that’s needed to convince the public. Republicans have known better for a while. Maybe Obama is learning.

  38. stonetools says:

    Put simply, there just isn’t the money in the Federal Budget for massive spending projects anymore and, after the President’s first term stimulus project clearly failed to give a significant boost to the economy there quite simply isn’t the political will to engage in the kind of spending projects that Democrats used to be known for, and there isn’t likely to be any such political will at least until the Federal Budget Deficit is under some kind of reasonable control

    All of this is dead wrong, but it shows the efficacy of Luntz’s stategy. Republicans have been saying that the stimulus was a failurre since before the stimulus passed, and have remained relentlessly on message. The Democrats had no coherent counter message, because they somehow believed that the stimulus would “speak for itself”
    Now the overwhelming consensus among economists is that the stimulus DID help. For example, the CBO on stimulus:

    The economy would have been in much worse shape without the 2009 stimulus — which increased employment in the third quarter of this year by as many as 3.3 million full-time jobs, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/68965.html#ixzz2a4QZ84YV

    Yet Doug repeats the Republican lie about stimulus as if its conventional wisdom-which it became, in the absence of a consistient countervailing message from the Democrats.

    MIke Grunwald in his book “the New New Deal” explained:

    Most of those 30 bills would have been stuff like health IT and extending unemployment benefits and accountability-based, data-driven education reform and building highways — those are things that had been bipartisan until January 2009. So was the idea of stimulus. Until January 2009, every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate had a stimulus, and Mitt Romney’s was the biggest. House Republicans had an infrastructure stimulus similar to Obama’s, and Paul Ryan voted for it. But Republicans made this decision that their path back to power was to oppose everything.

    The Republicans are still doing that. Obama seems to be trying to push out his countermessage ahead of time. Good for him. Now if the Democrats could only follow and be disciplined…

  39. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “GW Bush has been out of office for almost five years. You can no longer blame him for anything”

    In 1939, the worldwide Jewish population was over 16 million. In 1945 it was 11 million. We can blame Hitler for that, obviously.

    But according to you, the fact that in 2012, the worldwide Jewish population was still under 14 million can’t be blamed on Hitler, because he’d been out of power since 1945.

    Actions have no consequences, and if we can finally be forced to admit that they do, those consequences can’t actually be attributed to those who committed the actions.

    Not if there’s a black guy we can pin them on, anway.

  40. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The Obama Adminstration has had five years to make changes and has failed. The Democrats are operating from the position that demographic changes will make them the one dominant political party in the future and thus, there is no reason to make real policy proposals or make any compromises with Republicans.

    How deluded are you? Obamacare, that most hated of government takeovers, is a giant compromise with Republicans. The very structure of the law, setting up private insurance exchanges and mandating that everyone buy health insurance, was a conservative idea. The public option, the one piece of the law that could genuinely be called a Democratic initiative, was removed from it to appease Republicans. They all voted against it regardless.

    Obama’s budget proposals begin with cutting Medicare and Social Security funds. That’s a compromise with Republicans, one they continually refuse to take in exchange for tax increases.

    If we hadn’t just endured the largest financial collapse since the Great Depression, and simultaneously had not been burdened with a political party cynically preventing any major government action from taking place in a ploy to increase their electoral prospects, I’d agree with you that it’s Obama’s economy. But history speaks for itself.

  41. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You must be a big fan of Calvin Coolidge’s presidency.

  42. C. Clavin says:

    @ Superdestroyer…

    “…President Obama could do something to compromise with Republicans: Make an offer that they cannot refuse…”

    Where have you been for the last 5 years?
    The Republicans are not interested in anything the President has to offer.
    He has made budget offers that are to the right of Simpson-Bowles and they refuse.
    They are not interested in governing. The are interested in making the silly people with tea bags hanging from their tri-corns happy and keeping their offices.
    Period.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    Bless bill’s heart…

    “…@anjin-san: thx for bringing up the the “blame bush” bs so soon. i don’t recall bush blaming his predecessor for the recession he inherited or the lack of covert ops to squelch the sheetheads and such (he had 8 years to do so and did naught)…..and the economy was booming through 2 wars! but here we are, 5 yrs into it and nobody can roll off the successes of our wonderful administration and boast of all its accomplishments….which we’re all waiting for. oh, did you get a free phone or something?…”

    There is nothing factually correct in that entire comment.
    How in the world can anything ever get done when half the country is operating based on pure fiction?

  44. Rob in CT says:

    @JKB:

    Obama’s negotiation skills are middling. But not because he isn’t willing to make deals with the GOP, offering them concessions. That’s not the problem at all. His problem is that he appears to think there is a deal to be made at all. There is not.

    The revealed preference of the GOP (and a majority of GOP voters, I might add) is to stonewall him. And they can do it, because they have a majority in the House.

    Spin whatever fairy tales about magical fantasy Obama who is willing to, say, sacrifice his signature policy achievement in order to raise the debt ceiling (ala recent GOP demands). Magical fantasy Obama would be a f*cking moron to do that.

  45. john425 says:

    Poised
    adjective
    1. ready, waiting, prepared, standing by, on the brink, in the wings, all set.

    January 25, 2011 State of the Union Address:

    “We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.”

    December 4, 2012:

    In an interview with Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman, President Barack Obama stated, “I think America is poised to take off.”
    January 12, 2013:

    Despite slight contraction in Q4 GDP, WH/Jay Carney says “we continue to be poised for economic growth & job creation.”
    July 25, 2013:

    “We’re poised to be able to finally reverse some of the forces that were hurting middle class families for so long.” —President Obama

    Failure
    noun
    1. omission of occurrence or performance; specifically
    2. lack of success
    3. a falling short : deficiency
    4. one that has failed

    I might add that all this “pivoting” is usually called “spinning”.

  46. An Interested Party says:

    I might add that all this “pivoting” is usually called “spinning”.

    Indeed…perhaps it as untrue as saying that Republicans in Congress are actually “governing”…

  47. Jenos Idanian says:

    Anyone else noticed a theme from this administration? So many of their plans follow the same blueprints.

    1. Take an idea that can somehow be linked to a Republican or a conservative.
    2. Take the worst parts of the idea and crank them up to 13 (because 11 is just so 1970s).
    3. When the idea gets resistance from conservatives, play up its Republican/conservative origin, and omit just how much it was changed for the worse.
    4. When it inevitably fails, start making excuses and talk about it being a “made-up” mess.

    Examples: ObamaCare, Fast & Furious, the IRS, Green Jobs, the GM and Chrysler bailouts, the stimulus… any other nominees?

  48. C. Clavin says:

    Anyone else noticed a theme from Jenos?
    Oh yeah…it’s called fiction.

  49. C. Clavin says:

    By the way…the CBO says that sequestration…which we all know is the result of Republican intransegence…will cost the US 1.6M jobs next year.
    Y’all should be proud.

  50. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: And we also all know that sequestration was the brainstorm of the Obama administration. It’s just that you and yours really wish we’d all forget that.

    Kind of like Obama’s pledge to take public funding in 2008. Or his stance on gay marriage for well over a decade. Or his promise to close Guantanamo within one year. Or… well, I think the point’s been made.

  51. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: So aside from the fact that you’re still a lyng scumbag, what’s new with you?

  52. john425 says:

    @wr: Hey, Doug Mataconis: How about a little moderator work in these comments. Does “lyng (sic) scumbag” advance anyone’s argument?

  53. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john425: Go easy on wr. If you moderated all of his comments that were nothing but pointless and asinine vitriol, he’d have nothing left.

    And just to ram the point home, the sequester that we’re all talking about was the brainchild of the Obama administration. Their strategy was to put up such a bad idea, Congress would be so horrified that it would actually go along with the White House’s real plans.

    I’ll let others decide on the wisdom of a political strategy based on “we’re counting on the other side to know we’re lying here…”

  54. C. Clavin says:

    “…And we also all know that sequestration was the brainstorm of the Obama administration…”

    Yes…as a tactic to overcome Republican intransegence. But it didn’t work…because of Republican intransegence. So I’m not sure what point you think you made. I wonder if you know? Most likely not.

    Now…and for the life of me I don’t know why OTB hasn’t posted on this…Republicans are encouraging people not to buy insurance.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/25/us-usa-healthcare-republicans-idUSBRE96O0EJ20130725
    Seriously. Don’t buy insurance. Be irresponsible. That’s a pretty Conservative approach.
    This is what passes for the Republican party today. What a pile of crap the GOP has become.

  55. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: Yes…as a tactic to overcome Republican intransegence. But it didn’t work…because of Republican intransegence.

    So… Obama’s a poor tactician. He came up with an idea that was so deliberately stupid, he was convinced that no one would go along with his stupid idea. And now he’s upset that people went along with his stupid idea.

    So, please, tell us again just how brilliant this guy is. I need some more laughs.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    Jenos…you wouldn’t understand brilliance if you looked directly at a lightbulb.

  57. C. Clavin says:

    B-T-W you fool…you are applauding something that has cost 1.6M jobs.
    Remember that next time you complain about the economy.

  58. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: Cliffy, I just read that article you linked to twice, and I couldn’t find a single part that says “Republicans are encouraging people not to buy insurance,” apart from the lead sentence — which is never backed up.

    The closest it comes to saying that is noting that conservatives are informing young people that ObamaCare depends on them — young, healthy people — to pay premiums that will greatly exceed the benefits they receive. Which is the indisputable truth — for ObamaCare to work, it needs all those young, healthy people to pay for us older farts’ health care.

    Could you give the actual quote? Or, if you want to save time, just admit you pulled that description out of your ass?

  59. C. Clavin says:
  60. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: B-T-W you fool…you are applauding something that has cost 1.6M jobs.

    1) I’m not applauding anything.
    2) So, Obama’s tactic has cost the US 1.6 million jobs? Time for some spin — “if it hadn’t been for Obama’s sequester, we would have lost 1.6 billion jobs!”

  61. C. Clavin says:

    “…Which is the indisputable truth — for ObamaCare to work, it needs all those young, healthy people to pay for us older farts’ health care…”

    You do understand that is how ALL INSURANCE WORKS…right?
    Let me ask you this…if Obamacare is destined to be such a colosall failure…why are Republicans working so hard to sabotage it? Why not just sit back and watch it fail?

  62. C. Clavin says:

    “…Time for some spin — “if it hadn’t been for Obama’s sequester, we would have lost 1.6 billion jobs!…”

    I’m glad you admit that is total spin.
    Jesus-god you are a stupid f’er.

  63. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: You do understand that is how ALL INSURANCE WORKS…right?

    No crap, Sherlock. The biggest objection I — and many others — have isn’t the insurance angle, it’s the mandate part. We happen to believe — unlike you — that individuals have certain rights to make choices in their lives, choices that aren’t limited strictly to sex. And among those choices are to decide whether or not to participate in insurance.

    Let me ask you this…if Obamacare is destined to be such a colosall failure…why are Republicans working so hard to sabotage it? Why not just sit back and watch it fail?

    Because I (and others, I believe, but I won’t speak for them) believe that ObamaCare’s failure will be so disastrous, I want to head that off. It’s a concept you might not understand — it’s a sort of moral obligation. While seeing ObamaCare inevitably fail would be satisfying, its failure will cause a lot of hurt to a lot of people. And a good number of those people will be the ones who can least withstand the hurting it will cause.

    But you’re rabbiting off on yet another topic. As noted, this is the umpeenth time Obama has “pivoted” to the economy. I agree with John425 above — when someone “pivots” that much, they’re spinning.

  64. C. Clavin says:

    “…And among those choices are to decide whether or not to participate in insurance….”

    The problem is that when irresponsible people like you make that choice…IT COSTS ME MONEY!!! I should not be damaged by your lack of personal responsibility. BTW – It doesn’t suprise me that you lack accountibility for yourself. Maybe you are covered by your mother’s insurance?

  65. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: How many times have we been down this road? You’re only protective of your wallet when it suits you.

    Unprotected sex costs you money, too. Unprotected sex leads to transmission of STDs, which COST YOU MONEY. And they lead to unplanned pregnancies, which COST YOU MONEY.

    I’m surprised that you don’t call for mandatory contraception for people on welfare, because they COST YOU MONEY.

    As far as “accountability,” I’m amused at your position that giving up a right to make a personal choice and go along with making oneself dependent on the federal government as being “accountable.”

    And as for your pathetic attempt to make things personal… not even worth the minimal effort it would take to rebut.

  66. C. Clavin says:

    “…And as for your pathetic attempt to make things personal… not even worth the minimal effort it would take to rebut…”

    Could you be dumber? It’s called free-riding, or free-loading in your case…and it’s one of the main reasons Republicans came up with the mandate in the first place. It’s not personal you stupid f’er…it’s a major economic problem driving up the cost or health care.

    “…I’m surprised that you don’t call for mandatory contraception for people on welfare, because they COST YOU MONEY…”

    I’m not as stupid as you apparently are. I do support sex education which is proven to reduce unwanted pregnancy…as opposed to abstinence education which Republicans support and is proven to increase pregnancies. I also support a woman’s right to choose,,,as opposed to Republicans who want to say that life begins before a woman even can know she is pregnant.

    Big picture Jenos…if you are incapable of understanding the issues at even a very basic level…then you probably shouldn’t hold your views so strongly.

  67. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: So, you support telling people how to avoid COSTING YOU MONEY… but don’t actually want the law to back you up to keep people from COSTING YOU MONEY.

    Just what is the distinction you draw? How do you distinguish between “people who choose to have less insurance than I think they should have” who COST YOU MONEY from people who have unprotected sex who COST YOU MONEY?

    You put forth the argument for the mandate, and it consisted solely of you deciding that you wanted to keep your own money instead of paying your fair share and taking care of your fellow citizens who have made unfortunate choices. I’m trying to find the underlying core principle behind your stances here.

    Which presumes that you actually have core principles, something remaining to be proven.

  68. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And AGAIN, you won’t actually discuss how Obama’s sequester is causing all this hurt. You want to rehash ObamaCare yet again instead of how Obama’s big idea was for the other side to not take him seriously.

  69. wr says:

    @john425: “Hey, Doug Mataconis: How about a little moderator work in these comments. Does “lyng (sic) scumbag” advance anyone’s argument? ”

    You are absolutely right, Mr. 425. I apologize to the group.

  70. wr says:

    @C. Clavin: “Big picture Jenos…if you are incapable of understanding the issues at even a very basic level…then you probably shouldn’t hold your views so strongly. ”

    Well, I think you’ve just hit on one of the great tragedy’s of human existence — the less a person understands about reality, the more frantically he holds on to the myths that explain the universe to him.

    It’s why Muslim and Christian fundamentalists tend to be poor and ignorant — give them a little knowledge and the fanatacism is tempered with doubts and wonder.

    Or, as Yeats put it, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

    But of course, that applies to the real partisans. Jenos cares about absolutely nothing except annoying people on the internet. Which puts him morally about a dozen notches below anyone who repeats this stuff out of passionate ignorance.

  71. Jenos Idanian says:

    So this is the new definition of charity, of compassion, of caring; how generous can you be with other people’s money, spent on what you think other people need.

    I’m generous on my own time, with my own money and my own efforts. I don’t see the great morality in coercing others to do what I consider good deeds.

  72. C. Clavin says:

    Jenos…
    You are just being foolish.
    Stop.

  73. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: Normally, Cliffy, I’d defer to you, as you’re an expert at making oneself look stupid. (Not quite the pro wr is, but still formidable.) But since you don’t want to talk about Obama’s sequester or your own pet diversion of ObamaCare, I’ll let it drop.

  74. anjin-san says:

    Simple question Jenos (and one you have ducked many times)

    If you could wave a magic wand, and go from today’s economy back to the the economy the day before Obama took office (and supposedly screwed everything up) – would you?

    That’s a Yes/No/Run and hide question…

  75. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Let me check a few statistics and figures…

    Yeah, I would.