Democrats control the White House and Senate, and won more of the national vote in House races last year than Republicans, Packer observes—"And yet the dominant argument in Washington is over spending cuts, not over ways to increase economic growth and address acute problems like inequality, poor schools, and infrastructure decay."
Republicans lost the government-shutdown battle, but they're winning the war, Fred Barnes asserts similarly in the Wall Street Journal—because the sequester cuts were not molested.
Obama proposals that require new spending—universal pre-K, for one—will be easier to block because those automatic cuts have to be dealt with first, according to Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News commentator. "The sequester is a gift that keeps on giving," Barnes adds gleefully. "Republicans can sit on their hands and experience the joy of trimming the size of government and, thanks to the sequester, watching Democrats gripe about it."
Whose idea was the 2011 sequester proposal in the first place? Not mine, Obama has insisted. In February he condemned the "meat-cleaver approach" of the sequester.
But three days after the president's "meat-cleaver" comment, Bob Woodward wrote in the Washington Post that according to senior White House aides, Obama personally approved the plan to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
After the sequester got through Congress as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, and after Obama signed it, the White House called it "a win for the economy and budget discipline", and "a strong enforcement mechanism to make sure all sides come together . . . creating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy."
The strong enforcement mechanism apparently hasn't been strong enough.
In the WSJ, Barnes also reminds us that when the Bush tax cuts were about to expire at the end of 2012, the White House agreed to preserve them for those with taxable incomes of less than $400,000, which are 99 percent of the nation's taxpayers. "Now the Bush tax rates are permanent and White House leverage is gone," Barnes writes.
Time and again, the president has been reasonable and optimistic and compromising. We've seen how well that's worked.
In the New Yorker, Packer notes: "Senator Ted Cruz can be justly described as a demagogic fool, but lately he's been on the offensive far more than the White House has."
Where's the Democratic answer to Cruz? Liberals don't need the demagoguery, but they do need the passion. Warren Buffet's voice is appreciated, but c'mon. The leadership needs to come from an elected official. Didn't most of the voters who picked Obama twice expect him to drive the national debate and tone leftward? He's nearing the end of year five now. Shouldn't he finally begin?