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News has it that Obama is going to propose a freeze on all "non-military discretionary spending."  While we don't know much yet about what that means, the move feels transparently political, and my guess is, it isn't going to be received well.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Obama proposed and successfully pushed Congress to pass the Stimulus Bill, which was one of the largest spending bills in the nation's history.  There may be very good economics underpinning the Stimulus Bill, but the size of spending is undeniable, and it is one of the things people most associate with President Obama's administration.  
  • Obama flatly rejected Senator McCain's proposal for a general spending freeze during the campaign.  Obama had a good argument as well- better to use a scalpel to control spending than a hatchet.  Looks like we are out of scalpels.
  • Even though the health care bill proposed by the Senate is projected to actually reduce the deficit, most Americans don't believe those projections.  According to Rasmussen Reports, 68% believe the bill would increase the deficit, making it nearly impossible to urge passage of the health care bill without people believing he is violating his promise to freeze spending.  
  • Obama is now promoting a jobs bill which undoubtedly will also cost a significant amount of money, even if, again, the economics are sound.

There is no escaping the cognitive dissonance Americans are going to feel upon hearing news that President Obama wants to propose a spending freeze.  It will take all of .00002 seconds for Republicans to claim a freeze was their idea (and they will be right- it was one of several very bad ideas they offered).  Then when he once again pushes for health care reform (which may come as soon as next week), it will take even less time for Republicans to lambast him for "forgetting what he promised just last week."  Projections of deficit reduction only matter if you believe the projections.  

Obama isn't going to claim the crown of "most fiscally responsible president" anytime soon.  Even if he was, in fact, the most fiscally responsible president ever, public perception is not on his side, and in politics, perception equals reality.  Why try to claim the title now when there is literally no chance it will succeed and a significant chance it will actually hurt his narrative in trying to pass significant legislation?

This might be a very good policy- we can't possibly know how good or bad it will actually be until we have more details- but it seems to be poor politics at a vulnerable time for Democrats.

Then again, lacking faith in the President's persuasive powers the night before a major address hasn't worked out well for doubters in the past.

Check us out at http://www.thefourthbranch.com

Originally posted to thefourthbranch on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 10:02 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daily Activist, Johnny Q

    http://www.thefourthbranch.com

    by thefourthbranch on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 10:02:51 PM PST

  •  There is a diary a few down from yours (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dvogel001, snackdoodle, KingofSpades

    which explains that the budget will be raised in 2011, and then those levels will be kept.  this will be a flexible freeze, with some programs getting increases (yes, education etc would be some) and some duplicate and redundant spending cut.  Wait and see the full details, which will come out next week.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 10:06:37 PM PST

  •  I am not necessarily opposed to the policy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Same As It Ever Was

    It isn't possible to even oppose at this stage as we don't have any details on the policy itself.  I am merely pointing out the politics of the proposal, no matter what the details of the policy may actually be, appear very bad for Democrats.

    http://www.thefourthbranch.com

    by thefourthbranch on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 10:09:30 PM PST

  •  The politics (0+ / 0-)

    Seemed geared to the blue dogs and mushy moderate voters say in Ohio or Virginia.

    It seems to force the GOP to either agree with the policy, take a more extreme positions, or ignore it. Neither of which will impress the independents much.

    It takes away a GOP talking point or two about how they would control the budget better, and I don't think it will be easy for them to quickly explain this away as not a real budget freeze in succinct sound bites. Where all democratic candidates have to say is "budget freeze" to get their point across.

    The strongest counter is your first bullet that talk about bailouts. Whether fair or not. But it does make the bailout talk not as strong as it would have been.

    Where it really is bad politics is with the liberals and the left, who are still worried about the lack of direction and action on HCR, Climate, and a host of other issues. But instead we are offered this... a budget freeze... goodie.

    •  Where it is really upsets me is I cannot (0+ / 0-)

      understand why the man can't be honest and do the right thing. Go out on the national stage, like he did in the campaign, and just tell the straight-up honest truth. "We will NOT cut descretional spending because that is the spending that the economy needs the most. It is what keeps people productive, fed, clothed, housed. It is what spurs on economic growth. It is where we need spending the most to pull ourselves out of this recession."

      But he want's republican love and support so much, he can't do what's right and honest. They wouldn't approve.

  •  We need a Surge-freeze (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q, CMYK

    that would be a real first step in controlling excess spending.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 11:19:43 PM PST

  •  I think it's bad politics (0+ / 0-)

    because in the end it looks like a stupid gimmick.  There's not going to be as freeze.  And a jobs bill and (hopefully) a health care bill will be all the ammunition needed for the Republicans to paint him as a liar.

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