Poor Robert Reich. Every time I look at the photo of him that runs with his column he seems to look more bemused, or even dumbfounded, and I can’t help thinking it’s because President Obama is slowly driving him crazy.
For two years he has nudged Obama to make the right policy decisions. He has asked pointed questions that seem directed at Obama’s famous reasonableness. Sometimes he seems on the verge of hectoring the big chief, but then he stops short and just says Obama’s decisions seem sort of… odd:
On Monday the President will offer ways to pay for his $467 billion American Jobs Act mostly by increasing taxes on the wealthy. I’m all in favor, but it’s an odd strategy. If any Republican was prepared to vote for the jobs bill, this will send him or her scurrying. So if the President was never really serious about getting Republican votes in the first place – if his jobs bill and the tax increase on the wealthy were always going to be part of his 2012 election year pitch – why didn’t he make his jobs bill big enough to do the job?
Here’s another odd thing.
The deficit-reduction plan the President will present Monday to Congress’s special supercommittee on the debt (now struggling to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction) will also propose some $2 to $3 trillion in additional deficit reduction over the next ten years – including changes in Medicare. According to the President’s plan, those tax increases and spending cuts would go into effect in 2013. But there’s a strong likelihood the American economy will still be anemic in 2013, if not on life support… When unemployment is still in the stratosphere, it would be insane to start cutting the deficit by $3 trillion to $4 trillion. That would push unemployment into outer space.
Reich never seems to be saying that Obama is corrupt, or too weak to stick to his guns, but rather that he is profoundly obtuse when it comes to tackling what seems obvious to most people who aren’t right-wing nut jobs — i.e., that “Our national crisis is joblessness and low wages, not the deficit.”
At this point I wish Reich would speculate on why Obama can’t address or even acknowledge what’s really ailing the economy. Is it because an inner circle of wrong-headed advisers keeps steering the president off-track, or because Obama is too stubbornly off-track to listen to anyone who offers good advice?