Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Obama Up Until Now

I think the fact of the economic collapse is far too big historically for anyone to wrap their head around, unless they try real hard, which the media doesn't seem want to do. So we view everything through the old lens even though everything has changed.

I think the stimulus, like this latest compromise, is an achievement in the art of the possible, and did a lot of good. Taking over the bailout, then taking over the auto industry, huge things that have gone very well. This was a once in a century chance politically to pass health care, and Obama went all in and won.

He's got the nastiest political enemies since Nixon, and the worst economic inheritance since Carter and Reagan. If he fights these guys right now, he's up against all the people who want everyone to work together, AND the GOP gets to say he raised taxes on middle Americans, breaking his promise a la the first George Bush, AND there's no kind of stimulus with 9.8 unemployment AND he gets no START Treaty (and yes, the Republicans seem to be willing to let the economy slide and to let loose nukes go unmonitored for the sake of a political win) so unless you definitely want a one-term presidency (making those threats of health-care repeal seem actually possible) and a lot more economic pain over a principal (when we really don't need to fix the deficit until after there's real economic growth) then I think Obama's playing the hand he's been dealt (though he shouldn't flash his hand so readily) about as well as is possible.

--Dan Kilian

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