Does the president sense what the moment requires? It helps to think like Mitch McConnell. Once you do, you’ll see there’s no way Republicans will partner with Obama to do anything that matters, because they have the president right where they want him, with “full ownership” of a lousy economy. That’s why the super-committee is doomed to fail, because McConnell’s only goals will be a bipartisan Medicare reform that takes the issue off the table, plus a deal with no tax hikes.
This means that, for all the attention it will consume, there is no way the super-committee can deliver. (And the awful cuts that are supposed to ensue if it fails will never happen; they’ll be “triggered” yet scrapped or put off after the election.)
A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the host of the new podcast “This...Is Interesting,” Miller writes a weekly column for The Post.
Obama gets his head handed to him
Once Obama sees that this struggle for power ensures no substantive progress in the next 15 months, he has two alternatives. He can campaign small — via Mediscare and fresh taxes on millionaires and billionaires, while demonizing the GOP candidate as “worse” — and hope to squeak across the finish line.
Or he can go big — with mega-plans for jobs, education, infrastructure, and research and development, while calling out GOP nihilism as the obstacle. But “big” means pairing this with bolder (and much more candid) long-term deficit-cutting plans that kick in once unemployment comes back down— including higher taxes on the best-off, yes, but also sensible steps to slow the growth of Medicare and Social Security, bigger defense cuts, and modestly higher taxes for everyone on consumption, dirty energy and financial transactions.
Will Obama go big? I think not, because no honest agenda for American renewal can avoid trims and taxes that impose costs on the middle class (as part of a long-term plan to save it). Yes, the president will sound “big,” and so will his opponent. But it’ll be phony. Instead, we’re in for another season of charades as both parties fight for 51 percent with symbolic “ideas” unequal to the size of our challenges.
If this is how it plays out, people like me won’t just be mad at Obama. We’ll be mad at ourselves for believing he was going to be different.