As Congress stews about who to keep the tax cuts for (the rich as well as the middle class or just the middle class), the political fallout continues, as well it should. The Catfood Commission has issued its report and to the surprise of many, 11 members of the Commission were in favor of the Bowles/Simpson final report. [Here] The members did not hold a formal final vote, because it was generally known that the 18 members did not have the required 14 votes to send their recommendations to Congress for an up or down vote.
More on the final recommendations when we have a chance to digest the results. (Among things we need to digest is how Dick Durbin managed to vote on the same side as Alan Simpson...)
On Friday morning Paul Krugman nailed his thesis to his wall for all of us to read. In Krugman’s case his wall was not a church door in Wittenberg, but his NYTimes column. Here is how Krugman started:
After the Democratic 'shellacking' in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?
On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.
Krugman went on to dismiss the recent Presidential Executive Order freezing federal pay for two years. He called the move both "cheap” and “cynical deficit-reduction theater.” He pointed out that this policy made no economic sense and certainly didn’t impress the GOP leadership. We might add here that it hurt the federal employees who are, by and large, already underpaid.
Krugman concluded by posing the question that most liberals are asking themselves:
The real question is what Mr. Obama and his inner circle are thinking...Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.
Krugman's final line sums up what so many of us are feeling lately:
...all indications are that the party will have to look elsewhere for the leadership it needs.
And so shall we...