Perennial dumb ass, the voice of establishment stupidity, offered this political advice to President Obama:
Obama could have adapted Simpson-Bowles, but symbolically it was vital to embrace it in some form as his headline deficit plan, because it already enjoyed some G.O.P. support and strong backing from independents, who liked the way it forced both parties to compromise. Had Obama gone to the country with more near-term stimulus married to Simpson-Bowles, he would have owned the left, independents and center-right. It would have split the Republicans and provided a real alternative to the radical Paul Ryan-Romney plan.Now, just think about this for a moment. The Simpson-Bowles plan:
Furthermore, that plan:
a. cut Social Security and Medicare
b. cut military pension benefits
c. cut student loans
d. increased the payroll tax(!) and the gasoline tax(!)
e. eliminated the mortgage interest deduction (those underwater would love this!)
f. puts 10 percent of the entire federal workforce out of a job
Do all those things sound like election year winners to you? Not if you've got at least one synapse working. Had Obama done any of what Friedman recommends, he would have won himself nothing more than a strong primary challenge and the certainty of defeat in November. The idea that he'd win some over on the right, people who don't even believe he was born in America, is as ridiculous as thinking Sarah Palin would win over the women's vote.
Leave it to Friedman and his ilk to stand staunchly behind perhaps the dumbest political strategy to come out of Washington in perhaps ... forever. The idea that the way to win a national election is to piss off the voters and mollify the Washington establishment and punditry will never cease to find currency inside the Beltway. But even among that elite group of calcified know-nothings, most of them are smart enough to know that Simpson-Bowles would be about as popular as a smallpox epidemic. Only Thom Friedman is dumb enough not to get that.