Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The budget debate and the importance of political narrative

I decided to turn my posting from earlier into a piece for the Examiner. Check it out here if you missed it.

1 comment:

Patrick_L said...

Ruth Marcus agrees http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-the-budget-the-white-house-is-late-to-the-game--again/2011/04/12/AF99CeSD_story.html?hpid=z3

I only bring this up because I really liked her opening line:

"I’m no sports nut but I’ve spent enough time at kids’ soccer games to understand that it’s impossible to score if you’re playing on the wrong side of the field."

Anyways, Republicans are definitely controlling the narrative... on every issue imaginable, but particularly budget issues. This is a particularly sore spot for me and PBM- Obama needs to do a much better job.

On deficit reduction, Bowles-Simpson might be an acceptable ending point. But it truly does represent a hard line that most liberals will not cross (largely the distribution of spending cuts and revenue increases, liberals want 50/50 split. There are specific elements they like and don't like, but those can be adjusted at the margins). Bowles-Simpson also needs some fixing up in a few areas- doesn't do enough on health care, doesn't adequately protect the disadvantaged like it says is important (though it does an okay job- B-minus? certainly better than Ryan's plan), and achieving its spending level is too hard to do as fast as they want (because of the demographic boom and rising health care costs that will take time to slow).

Though I agree with Pearlstein that Republicans have overplayed their hand (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/budget_fights_are_a_lose_lose_proposition/2011/04/12/AFJdwtSD_story.html)

Or as Ruth (the "deficit panda") said, "In the meantime, the void was filled — and the playing field was shifted even further rightward — by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican unveiled a plan that makes the centrist Simpson-Bowles proposal look as if it were written by Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean."

Btw, the President Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility (embargoed until after his speech) actually surprises me in its level of detail and specific goals. Not as a specific as a budget resolution obviously, but still more than some were predicting from this speech. Though the Administration has been working on this stuff for awhile, so in that sense it isn’t a surprise.

I just hope we don’t end up with a negotiation between Ryan’s proposal and Bowles-Simpson- that’s like negotiating between John Boehner and the Tea Party.