Obama’s speech showed that he in fact does know how to package a case, present it forcefully and mobilize the power of his office to create political facts. So he isn’t clueless after all, he just hasn’t wanted to use these tools up to now.
So what does the New, Improved Obama propose? To respond to the jobs crisis he (finally!) acknowledges by raiding the Social Security piggy-bank. Cutting in half the payroll tax—which has kept Social Security solvent for 80 years despite the full-throated campaign to declare it bankrupt—means that to restart the economy’s sputtering engine, the national retirement system should be further undermined.
There is also some spending in the emergency proposal, to which we can fully expect the Republican Furies to object. But if they are smart, they will go along with it to nail down the huge prize Obama is handing them by offering to turn their dire prophecies about Social Security insolvency into a reality.
I’ll have to read the fine print, but my first impression is that this progressive-sounding proposal is the worst thing to emerge from the Obama White House yet. Does the president secretly belong to the Tea Party?