I just got out of a meeting in the West Wing between David Axelrod and a few progressive writers and . . . well . . . I don’t have a ton to report.
An awful lot of progressive dialogue with the administration just keeps coming around to the same one point. According to the Obama administration the nation’s fiscal problem is in the long term. According to the Obama administration the nation’s fiscal problem is mostly due to entitlements. And according to the Obama administration in the short-term there’s a large output gap. So why a short-term discretionary spending freeze? Well on the merits there’s just no good reason you can give. The logic is clearly political. So, fine, politics is part of governing. But the White House’s belief that a strategy of unilateral preemptive concessions is a smart approach to legislative negotiations is as deeply held as it is difficult to understand. When has this worked? What has it helped achieve?
To be less dyspeptic, I guess the thing to say is that as best I can tell the people working in the Obama administration are smart people who understand the fiscal policy situation perfectly well. That’s a huge step forward relative to a lot of other people in Washington. But understanding is only as useful as your tactical approach lets it be, and I’m very skeptical on this front.