April 11, 2011

Barack the Born-Again Deficit-Cutter Gets Predictable AP Kid-Glove Treatment

I sure hope that the Associated Press’s Jim Kuhnhenn has been working out, especially in his upper body. The volume of water he’s having to carry for the Obama administration as a dutiful member of the state-compliant establishment press has to be getting very heavy.

This evening, Kuhnhenn and his wire service are expecting the AP’s readers — and ultimately its subscribing media outlets’ readers, listeners, and viewers — to believe that President Obama, who, with plenty of help from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, will have run up over $4 trillion of steadily rising federal government deficits by the time we get to September 30, the end of the current fiscal year (after making appropriate adjustments to reverse obfuscatory accounting entries designed to mask the truth), has now seen the light, and is on board with the idea of serious long-term deficit reduction (certain bias words bolded by me; numbered tags are mine):

Obama’s debt cutting plan: Everything on the tablePresident Barack Obama, plunging into the rancorous struggle over America’s mountainous debt, will draw sharp differences with Republicans Wednesday over how to conquer trillions of dollars in spending [1] while somehow working out a compromise to raise some taxes and trim a cherished program like Medicare.

Obama’s speech will set a new long-term deficit-reduction goal and establish a dramatically different vision from a major Republican proposal that aims to cut more than $5 trillion over the next decade, officials said Monday.

Details of Obama’s plan are being closely held so far, but the deficit-cutting target probably will fall between the $1.1 trillion he proposed in his 2012 budget proposal and the $4 trillion that a fiscal commission he appointed recommended in December.

The speech is intended as a declaration of Obama’s commitment to seriously tame the deficit [2] while outlining his long-term budget principles – key components of his campaign for re-election in 2012. After gingerly avoiding any discussion until now of cuts in the government’s massive benefit programs for the elderly and poor, Obama will acknowledge a need to reduce spending on Medicare and Medicaid while at the same time tackling defense spending and calling for increased taxes on the wealthy [3], White House officials said.

If that sounds like a reprise of last week’s budget fight that barely avoided a government shutdown, it isn’t. The stakes are far higher, the political risks greater and the goals more ambitious. At issue are long-term budget deficits and a $14.3 trillion national debt that many say could threaten the nation’s economy.

The mind reels at the audacity. I could have tagged 10 items in just these few paragraphs. I’ll stop at three:

  • [1] — Obama created most of the trillions of dollars of spending that have led to the recent years’ trillions of dollars in deficits. Additionally, he has created the pervasive, administration-induced business uncertainty which has, among many other things, caused the economy to add 508,000 jobs at temporary help services in the seven quarters since the recession ended — while losing (yes, losing) 263,000 non-temp jobs.
  • [2] — Obama and the White House had their chance to demonstrate a “commitment to seriously tame the deficit” two months ago. It was known as the President’s budget. It was almost universally derided by conservatives and liberals as an unsustainable, gutless exercise. The idea that he deserves a complete do-over is hard to accept. The idea that his attempt at a do-over is sincere is even harder to handle.
  • [3] — Ah yes, the predictable bromides. Cut defense spending even while creating a third war zone, and hike taxes on the “wealthy,” which in reality (Kuhnhenn please note) means increasing taxes on those with high incomes, who may or may not be particularly wealthy.

This kind of image shift worked in the mid-1990s with Bill Clinton. But after getting burned in his attempt at statist health care, Clinton became more interested in staying in office than in accomplishing anything serious, and liberals were reluctantly okay with that, given that the economy was in fairly good shape and that the agenda of supposed devil incarnate Newt Gingrich was the alternative. Clinton was also lucky that deficit-cutters like current Ohio Governor John Kasich and the welfare-reforming Republican Congress ended up (with media assistance of course) making him look good.

Whether Barack Obama can set aside the hard-core ideology for longer than five minutes is an open question, but even if he can, the landscape is different. The economy is not in good shape now, and could get worse if gas really does get to $5 a gallon by Memorial Day as predicted. Also, as much as Democrats and the press may try to paint John Boehner as the next source of all that is evil, thus far the Speaker has avoided making it about him (Gingrich’s biggest shortcoming), and has stuck to the agenda of making it about what the American people who gave his party the House majority want. The Speaker also has the advantage of having a credible agenda in the form of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s long-term proposals. Finally, there is a clear understanding not present during the mid-1990s that the status quo is not acceptable. Even USA Today’s editorial board acknowledges that hard reality.

Media apparatchiks like Jim Kuhnhenn seem to believe that their instant makeover effort will pan out as it did with Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Whether it can or will remains to be seen. The AP vet’s first attempt is so embarrassing that I expect many subscribing outlets laugh it into the trash can, be it the metallic ones at their desk or the ones on their computer desktops.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


1 Comment

  1. [...] Barack Obama, as noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) has decided to recast himself as a born-again deficit-cutter after two months of deliberately [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — April 12, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

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