June 24, 2010
-- by Dave Johnson
The deficit problem can be summed up very simply: the public thinks Obama's policies created a huge deficit. Never mind that it was Bush's deficit -- the public doesn't know that. This misunderstanding is leading Washington to take steps that will throw the economy into depression.
By 57 to 37 percent, voters in these 60 Democratic seats believe that President Obama’s economic policies have produced record deficits while failing to slow job losses — and not averted a crisis or laid a foundation for future growth.
The public believes the record deficits were caused by Obama's policies because:
1) Conservatives have pursued a strategic propaganda campaign to make the public believe this. They have used charts that show Bush's 2009 budget as Obama's, headlines that say this, repeatedly said it over the radio and conservative TV networks, etc.
2) The administration and supporters haven't responded to this campaign in any way, didn't seem to understand there even was a campaign to blame Obama for Bush's deficits, and now appear to believe it themselves.
Isn't this the story of the last few decades? Conservatives wage a strategic propaganda campaign to convince the public of XXX. Democrats don't respond, don't even understand there is a propaganda campaign being waged, and in time begin to support the conservative narrative.
But this time it is absolutely dead serious. The correct understanding of the cause of this deficit is absolutely crucial because doing the wrong thing now will throw the economy into depression.
The economy is on a precipice. Unemployment remains close to 10% with no help in sight and help for the unemployed running out. Economists are trying to tell Washington that more stimulus is needed, that it is crucial to directly create jobs, that the unemployed must receive checks and health care, and that cutting back now is exactly the wrong thing to do. Paul Krugman and others are becoming more and more alarmed about this. But with the public believing that the government is about to go broke, the political will can not form for doing the right thing.
But there are perceptions and then there are facts. It is just a fact that the huge $1.4 trillion deficit was Bush's 2009 budget, and that "Obama spending" contributed very little to that deficit. It is just a fact that the cause of current economic trouble is that the "stimulus bill" was inadequate, and its focus on tax cuts was a wasted effort. It is just a fact that letting unemployment benefits expire and refusing to pass job-creation programs will force the economy to turn back down. This is a mistake in policy caused by an intentional engineering of false perceptions.
Posted by Dave Johnson at June 24, 2010 3:49 PM
Obama blew it when he did nothing to force a bigger stimulus with enough teeth in it to actually lower unemployment. Instead most of his piddling "stimulus" consisted of tax breaks for wealthy (again). I know you can't get a Republican to vote for anything unless it benefits the rich. He did not need any Republican votes at that time. Everyone, including Obama, knew they wouldn't vote for it anyway. I think Obama shafted us chasing the approval of the elite who hate us anyway. That is why Americans think it is his fault. He had one chance to fix it and he didn't really even try.
I know Blue Dogs and Neolibs opposed helping working class Americans, too. But, Obama is President and he had the bully pulpit. If he made any effort at all, he could have passed a better bill. He chose not to. He really is to blame after that.
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