This posting is not about Nazis but rather appeasement – abject, complete, and uncompromising appeasement. Now the US knows what its like to live under a leader who may be well-intentioned but as spineless as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of England just before World War II. Look at the facts:
Republican Presidents have been responsible for 91% of the 30 year growth in deficits. See here.
Republicans strategists have had a deliberate policy of “Starve the Beast”, spend willy-nilly without cutting expenditures or collecting the taxes but for short-term political gain, then turn on a dime and become deficit hawks when the debt shit hits the fan. See here and here.
The US has 3rd lowest level of total taxation among 35 developed OECD countries. See here.
The US total taxation burden as a % of income strikes against the middle class. See here.
In summary, the US needs to target government spending to lead the US out of a growing recession.
Did President Obama advance any of these arguments in defense of his budgetary plans or in the arguments on the Debt Ceiling. Remarkably, No. He situated himself above the fray and then conceded to every Republican demand insuring a longer recovery if not an outright double dip recession. No arguments were made against the economic folly of cutbacks in the face of a gathering recession. Instead, the President moved to the right of most Republicans. Maybe he saw the electorate abandoning him on the deficit debate although the recent polls have been on Obama’s side. Maybe, as Paul Krugman said on This Week, “Obama just does not get the governments use of targeted spending to get out of recessions”. Maybe his political calculation was that he has no Democratic opposition so he can afford to concede to the Republicans and reverse things later.
Whatever the Plouffe-like reasoning, see the following reports on how bad the concessions to the new found “deficit hawk” Republicans really are:
Micheal Tomasky, Newsweek/Daily Beast – Obama Gives It All Away, The Consequences.
PaulKrugman, NYTimes – President surrenders on more than debt ceiling.
Dan Stanbock, EconoMonitor – the missed opportunity and partisan repercussions.
MacCardle, The Atlantic – The missing debt debate charts.
David Frum, CNN – Wake up GOP, smashing system does not fix it.
Lexington, the Economist – only the English could tell us what not to do so succintly.
And so I give the last word to Russ Douthat at the NYTimes and his assessment of a greatly diminished President.
In fairness, the president’s passive-aggressive approach is a bipartisan affliction. The ostensible front-runner for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, took a deliberately hazy position on last week’s crucial House debate, preferring to flunk a test of leadership rather than risk alienating either side. (The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney quipped that “if you took Obama’s plan and Romney’s plan, and just met in the middle, you’d be in the middle of nowhere.”)
This leaves Americans to contemplate two possibilities more alarming than debt-ceiling brinkmanship. First, that we’re living through yet another failed presidency. And second, that there’s nobody waiting in the wings who’s up to the task either.
But I suspect that two groups who voted overwhelmingly for Obama but now are suffering nearly twice the unemployment rate and huge wealth losses due to the Financial Meltdown in comparison to most Americans, Blacks and Latinos, will have the actual last word.