It is elites who are creating a conventional wisdom that an incumbent president must run on his economic performance – and therefore must convince voters that things are moving in the right direction. They are wrong, and that will fail. The voters are very sophisticated about the character of the economy; they know who is mainly responsible for what went wrong and they are hungry to hear the President talk about the future. They know we are in a new normal where life is a struggle – and convincing them that things are good enough for those who have found jobs is a fool’s errand. They want to know the plans for making things better in a serious way – not just focused on finishing up the work of the recovery. – Democracy Corps
CLINTONITES HAVE SOUNDED the early warning signal, as election year economic stories dominate the news. When Pres. Obama attempted to define Mitt Romney through his Bain Capital tenure something went very wrong and hasn’t gone right since. Obama’s word salads have wilted and that’s because his campaign team is missing a message, which was foreshadowed in their inability to find a simple slogan, opting for the year glued to bumpers.
Meanwhile, politicians are trying to decide what to do about the Bush tax cuts due to expire, also protecting the Pentagon from automatic spending cuts.
Confidence is shaky all ’round, so on the infotainment cable circuit the conversation is focused on who can be a better steward of the economy, with Republicans choking statistics into factoids of fiction to make their case, and Democrats boil it down to Mitt Romney is evil capitalism incarnate, but that blew up in their face from friendly fire.
Enter infotainment host Steve Doocy, who is forever spinning truth into fantasy that aids the right, citing net worth decline as happening in the last three years, when the Federal Reserve Bulletin clearly stated it was from 2007-2010.
Mitt Romney didn’t care and was glad to take the boost, because his only goal is winning, so forwarding the preposterous notion the struggling economy is all Pres. Obama’s fault works just fine for him.
Once again I turn to Mr. Bartlett, a tax reform evangelist who won’t let either side off the hook:
Republicans assert that Barack Obama assumed sole responsibility for the budget on Jan. 20, 2009. From that date, all increases in the debt or deficit are his responsibility and no one else’s, they say. This is, of course, nonsense – and the American people know it. – The Fiscal Legacy of George W. Bush, by Bruce Bartlett
The bookend to this is House maneuvers to extend all the Bush tax cuts and what Democrats are going to do to counter it. Brian Beutler outlines the tensions, beginning with those between Sen. Jeff Merkley and Grover Norquist:
… But the so-called defense sequester is a huge source of leverage Dems can use to force Republicans to get real on taxes. So of course Republicans are accusing Dems them of inviting a huge national security risk.
Merkley says Dems should weather those attacks.
“I’m encouraging my team to realize we have lots of leverage on this,” he explained. “This is not a situation where you go to the table and you’re desperate to get a deal. Republicans are concerned about the [automatic] defense cuts. I personally feel that there’s probably a fair amount of defense cuts that are absolutely needed. But that goes to my view that we’re spending too much money overseas and too little on infrastructure and too little on education. The moment that January 1 comes, there’s kind of a hall pass granted to Republican legislators because now more modest changes than the Bush cuts are ones that are still tax breaks to the status quo. So that also gives some room for them to honor their pledge, if you will, and still work towards a reasonable ground on this.”
Considering Barack Obama does not know what to say about the future to stabilize his rocking reelection ship, what we’ve seen so far is the dinner theater version of Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Convention, starring Pres. Obama, whose last attempt at talking about the economy went so off course he’s scheduled another attempt at explaining himself for Thursday.
It matters because MSNBC can’t do all the heavy lifting explaining the Democratic message, which if left to Steve Doocy will end up reminiscent of Jimmy Carter, which is in no way a fair comparison.
But somebody in Chicago needs to find an economic message, which has escaped the White House Obama’s entire first term, because undecided voters aren’t going to vote to reelect Pres. Obama for the same reasons people took a leap of faith in ’08.