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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:32 AM ET, 09/16/2011

The Morning Plum

* Who will step up and help Obama push his jobs bill? My pick for read of the morning is Jonathan Cohn’s look at the utter lack of establishment figures — business leaders, fiscal hawk types — who are willing to raise their voices on behalf of the American Jobs Act. There’s broad consensus among economists and analysts that a mix of short term stimulus spending and long-term deficit reduction is the way out — that the policy response simply must be reoriented towards jobs-creation in the near term.

No mystery here: That approach happens to be the one championed by Obama. He’s out there pushing for it, with a visit set for next week to a crumbling bridge in John Boehner’s district. But where is everyone else? Cohn:

The other source of pressure should be the establishment — in particular, the media and business establishments. The broad, although hardly universal, consensus in both worlds is that this country needs a short burst of stimulus spending, to boost growth, followed by a lengthy dose of steady deficit reduction, in order to bring the budget into balance. It’s the approach both Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, and Doug Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office, have implicitly endorsed in the last few weeks.
But where are the coalitions of business leaders, whose livelihoods depend on growth, clamoring for this? And where are all the fiscal scolds, whom Obama has tried so hard to please by demanding (unlike the previous administration) that Congress pay for new initiatives and that long-term deficit reduction remain a goal? By refusing to engage more forcefully, and more pointedly, they empower and reward the Republicans who brazenly risked the nation’s credit rating — and who refuse to contemplate tax increases, making deficit reduction impossible as a practical matter

* Are Congressional Dems letting Obama down? Speaking of empowering Republicans, there’s still some caterwauling — in­cred­ibly — from Democrats in Congress who are too skittish to be seem embracing the whole plan. Senator Ben Nelson is now coming out against any tax increases and says he’s reserving judgment on the spending proposals.

* Fearful Democrats cowed by Republican attacks: The Dem equivocating earns a stern tongue-lashing from the New York Times editorial board:

Some Democrats oppose the jobs bill for its apparent connection to the stimulus law from 2009, which Republicans lambasted on their way to victories in the midterm elections in 2010. The problem with the stimulus bill is not that it did not work. The problem is that neither the administration nor Congressional Democrats ever persuasively used the evidence of its positive effect on jobs, as documented by the Congressional Budget Office and in private economic analyses.
The last thing Democrats should do now is repeat that mistake, cowing in the face of Republican tirades against government help.

* Dems could still rally around the jobs bill: For all the skittishness, however, the truth is that in the end, the vast majority of Congressional Dems may well be there with the president. Dick Durbin says that when push comes to shove, Democrats will pass Obama’s jobs plan. (Though it still remains to be seen what parts of it House Republicans will pass.)

* Yes, one party is far more to blame than the other: Even as some Dems can’t bring themselves to back the full jobs bill, Republicans are not equivocating about their own vision: They remain resolutely opposed to tax hikes of any kind.

Stephen Stromberg says what must not be said in polite company: Boehner’s speech yesterday revealed that when it comes to fixing our finances, one side is far less interested than the other in pursuing genuine balance and compromise.

* About those 219 regulations (that aren’t) hanging over our economy: Post fact checker Glenn Kessler digs into John Boehner’s speech claim yesterday that 219 regulations are hanging like a Sword of Damocles over our economy, gets to the root of the talking point’s origins, and concludes that it just ain’t so.

* An opening for Obama to use Congress as a foil? You have to wonder whether Obama’s ongoing jobs tour — in which he’ll continue to hammer away at Congress to act on unemployment — will enable him to use Congress as a foil, particularly since only a meager 12 percent approve of Congress’ performance.

* Obama to agree to raise Medicare eligibility age? Liberals are happy that Obama has taken Social Security cuts off the table, but as Zachary Goldfarb reports, he may still propose in his deficit reduction plan on Monday a raise in the Medicare eligibility age, which will likely stir an outcry from liberals.

* Conservative opinion-leaders keep up “Ponzi scheme” drumbeat: As long as conservative opinion-leaders like Charles Krauthammer continuing insisting that, yes, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, Rick Perry will be encouraged to keep it up.

The question remains: How much longer will conservatives tolerate Perry’s refusal to explain in any detail what he plans to do about this alleged Ponzi scheme?

* Modern conservatism is a deeply radical movement: Paul Krugman, on the real meaning of the “let him die” shout at the GOP presidential debate:

Modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
Are voters ready to embrace such a radical rejection of the kind of America we’ve all grown up in? I guess we’ll find out next year.

* Michele Bachmann’s immigration nostalgia: The Post editorial board has been probing the real ideological significance and implications of Bachmann’s various effusions, and today’s installment reveals the real meaning of her insistence that immigration laws before the mid-1960s “worked beautifully.”

Update: By mistake I neglected the key point here — that she was referring to immigration laws before the mid-1960s.

* And the stiletto skewering of the day: Ouch, ouch, a thousand times ouch: The Times’s Trip Gabriel devotes a whole piece to Bachmann’s penchant for borderline unhinged rhetoric and hallucinatory falsehoods, dryly noting that it’s “raising questions about her judgment and maturity.”

What else is happening?

By  |  08:32 AM ET, 09/16/2011

 
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