The president's decision to preempt his meeting with Republican leadership tomorrow for a surprise announcement -- a freeze in federal employee pay -- shows that Obama is finally turning his attention to the most pressing economic issue facing our country: The high pay earned by government employees.
Just my little joke, of course, because federal employees are underpaid compared to folks in the private sector. But instead of offering an alternate vision of how to balance the budget -- not giving the wealthy tax cuts, cutting subsidies and tax expenditures, instituting a carbon tax -- the president is just reinforcing misguided, anti-government ideas that will, over a decade, reduce the budget deficit by a whopping .1 percent. Will Republicans reward this concession with a compromise of their own? Of course not! Obama can't go back on this idea now, and he isn't going to win a who-wants-smaller-government contest with Republicans.
Don't worry, I'm sure the media and independent voters will give the president credit for his moderate position, just like they did for his deficit-cutting, centrist health-care plan (based on the ideas of Mitt Romney and Republican counter-proposals to the Clinton administration's health-care overhaul) and his offer to compromise on Bush tax policy by extending tax cuts for the entire population rather than disproportionately benefiting the wealthy. Right?
I'm going to go eat lunch and pretend that Obama said something about this instead.
-- Tim Fernholz
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