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The Insiders
Posted at 05:14 PM ET, 11/21/2011

Why isn’t Obama more engaged?

The failure of Congress’s debt supercommittee doesn’t serve either party’s selfish interests, and least of all President Obama’s.

It’s unfair to suggest that Tea Party Republicans intransigence on raising taxes is the problem. There are perfectly unemotional, rational arguments to be made that raising taxes in this economy could only hurt, that the money the government’s getting now isn’t being wisely spent, and that the Democrats exposed their true sentiments by saying that they will settle for taxes on the rich, which would not produce enough revenue. For every Tea Partyer that is intransigent on taxes, there is a Democrat who wants to use taxes as a punitive, rather than economic, measure.

Carter is right that President Obama now owns the economy, and unless the Republicans make a mistake, he and the economy will be the issue in 2012. Democrats are desperate to change the subject.

But it’s not too late to actually do some things that suggest that the economy could get better under Obama. I have come to believe that there is an ideological roadblock in this administration that forbids the president and others to embrace pro-growth rhetoric or tactics. 

The stock market is diving, and Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. ET, Gross Domestic Product figures will be announced. Undoubtedly, the numbers will be anemic. The president can’t credibly blame anybody, so where is his affirmative agenda? They are kidding themselves in the White House if they think that any favorable Obama economic initiative has registered with American voters.

Even Chris Matthews wonders where the Obama presidency is headed on economic and other issues. Fair disclosure to my Republican friends — I think Chris is an effective advocate of his position, although I disagree with him. And I consider him a friend off-camera.

Anyway, the point is, Obama’s even got trouble on the left, and nothing about new economic data will make things better.

And also, oh by the way, has anyone been paying attention to gasoline prices? Without much news coverage, the percentage that an American household is spending on gasoline has increased by about 25 percent over the past year, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

It is a delight, but still a mystery to me, why the Obama forces are not more self-aware and engaged. 

By  |  05:14 PM ET, 11/21/2011

 
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