President Obama will call for a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs, and for increases no greater than inflation after that, an initiative intended to signal his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit, administration officials said Monday.Exactly what I hoped a Democratic president would do: Freeze spending on education and exempt defense, so we can keep escalating wars we shouldn't be in.
...The freeze would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, including air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national parks.
But it would exempt security-related budgets for the Pentagon, foreign aid, the Veterans Administration and homeland security, as well as the entitlement programs that make up the biggest and fastest-growing part of the federal budget: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
My friend Steve notes that this proposal "fully embraces the conservative narrative, instead of using the power of the bully pulpit to explain why conservatives have it wrong." Absolutely right. And it took about two seconds for the GOP leadership to jump all over this hot mess and distance themselves from the ginormous deficit their party created.
Republicans were quick to mock the freeze proposal. "Given Washington Democrats' unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you're going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for the House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio.Awesome.
You know, I'm not going to mince words here: This is catastrophic. Optically, narratively, and practically. This is classic starve-the-beast conservatism, and, coupled with the giant corporate hand-outs and military expansion he's overseen, Obama is moving the Democrats even further rightward, while simultaneously alienating millions of young (and wildly disappointed) progressives from politics.
He is obliterating liberalism. This is unforgivable.
And I'm not alone in thinking so: Echidne: "Ominously, Obama's planned proposal to freeze some types of federal spending is seen as a way to start boiling the frog that is us." Digby: "Combined with the deficit fetishism, [the spending freeze] will tie his hands at the time he needs the most flexibility on jobs—and further destroy liberalism in the process." BTD: "Yes, the 'hippies' have now lost. But I doubt there are any winners outside the Tea Baggers and the GOP. The DLC rides again!"
Worse yet, this doesn't strike me as a particularly well thought-out plan. It seems reactionary—panicky and desperate. And thus incompetent. Which recalls to mind (yet again) a conversation I had not long ago with Mannion, in which I was ranting about my disappointment with Obama. "How can you possibly be disappointed with Obama when you had no expectations of him?" Mannion laughed. "One expectation!" I exclaimed in return. "I had ONE! That his administration would be competent. And they're not even that."
It's not like Obama snuck in through the back door and sprung on us some expansive, dastardly scheme to decimate the government. He walked in telling us precisely who he was (while allowing people-who-wanted-to think something else), and now he and his team are flailing and reaching for solutions from their Big Bag of Bipartisan Tricks, because they've never met a Republican to whom they didn't want to pander.
The destruction of the Left isn't even the objective. It's an unfortunate side effect, an afterthought (if that). And that's somehow worse.
You know, it's almost like progressives should have had a serious conversation about what kind of president Obama would really make, how he would really govern, when he kept telling us over and over and over that he wasn't a progressive.
But getting shouted at that I was a stupid, racist, man-hating traitor was fun, too.