Obama Met With "Liberal" Economists Just Before Lambasting the Left at His Tax Deal News Conference
I just heard that shortly before his official announcement of the tax cut deal with Republicans Obama met with a group of "liberal" economists. Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs, Alan Blinder and Robert Reich. With Obama at the meeting were Austan Goolsbee and Jared Bernstein. The meeting was apparently less about them sharing their views with him and more about him trying to sell the tax cut compromise to them.
Stiglitz is good but he tends to stay above the fray. He's not like Dean Baker in the trenches slogging it out every day. Krugman is Krugman, blame the Republicans and whimper at the Democrats. Sachs is or was a neoliberal and his record is spotty. Blinder is, like Krugman, another Princeton type. He's a Fed believer/monetarist although he recently has begun writing on wealth inequality. Better late than never, I suppose. And then there is Reich. He's a lightweight in economics but he's been good on jobs.
As for Jared Bernstein, the Administration's token "liberal", he's like some trained dog the Administration trots out in circumstances like these. They're trying to push Goolsbee into this role too, although he is very much one of the Chicago Boys.
Anyway, this was a fairly tame bunch, all in all. Obama's inability to sell the tax cuts even to them might explain why he was so dismissive of liberals later at the press conference.
Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are
it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify.
On the other hand, maybe it was all about pre-emption. Sure, even these economists might criticize the deal but meeting with them might keep them from open rebellion against Obama and the Democrats. If you look at it that way, the strategy probably worked.
Now you could also read into Obama's remarks a certain irritation and defensiveness. I think all that was just Obama working the con, you know feeling just a little rightfully irritated and disappointed that there were these purists out there who objected to being stolen blind, again.
As we have said so many times, Obama is a conservative. This is the deal he wanted. The compromise talk was just so much kabuki for the rubes. This too seems to have worked. The media is busily selling the cuts and burnishing Obama's image. We will see how long the good feelings last. Something else we purists say is that reality bites, and when it does, kabuki loses its appeal.