You Gots to Chill, Cont.


Andrew Sullivan remains apoplectic about Obama's budget proposal:

I didn't send eight years excoriating George "Deficits Don't Matter" Bush to provide excuses for Barack "Default Doesn't Matter" Obama. Like other fiscal conservatives, I'm just deeply disappointed by Obama's reprise of politics as usual - even as the fiscal crisis has worsened beyond measure in the last three years. My point is that actually being honest about the budget and what it will take to resolve its long-term crisis is not political suicide, as Chait says. It's statesmanship. It's what a president is for.

By disposition, I'm not that worried about the debt. But even if I were, I have yet to hear a compelling reason for why now is the time to be hyper-concerned about the debt. Inflation is low, interest on 10-year bonds is low, and foreign investors aren't rushing to dump U.S. dollars. Indeed, when it comes to debt, we're still in the realm of potentialities; the dollar might collapse, inflation might explode, and the government might default. By contrast, we are actually living with the prospect for long-term, double-digit unemployment. Joblessness for all Americans has been near 10 percent for nearly two years, with some groups -- like African Americans -- facing depression levels of unemployment. Economic growth is slow, and most projections assume years before employment returns to pre-recession levels. In a sane world, we would be spending more money, not less.

As it stands, the president is most concerned with posturing for deficit hawks. Over the next two years, Obama will invest more energy in deficit reduction than he will in job creation, despite the fact that decent economic performance is needed for meaningful deficit reduction. Which is why I don't understand Sullivan's complaint; Obama might not have the same issue priorities, but he's at least on the same page. That's a lot more than liberals can say.

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