I am not the only person who feels that some (most definitely not all) people on the left are holding the President to unrealistic standards. Here are three columnists writing about the original stimulus bill and the impending jobs speech.
Jonathan Chait in New York Times today on why he thinks Obama is getting a raw deal:
…the wave of criticism from the left over the stimulus is fundamentally flawed: it ignores the real choices Obama faced (and the progressive decisions he made) and wishes away any constraints upon his power.
The most common hallmark of the leftâ€™s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the presidentâ€™s.
Jonathan Alter defending the President in Bloomberg last week:
From the left: â€œHe should have pushed for a much bigger stimulus in 2009.â€
Thatâ€™s the view of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, now gospel among liberals. Itâ€™s true economically but bears no relationship to the political truth of that period.
Ezra Klein, in Washington Monthly yesterday on how unrealistic it is to expect anything Obama proposes in his coming jobs speech to go anywhere:
The fantasy version of the [Congressional Republicans’] role can be found in Aaron Sorkin dramas and liberal op-ed columns, in which Obamaâ€™s rhetoric stirs the hearts of some while his rallying of the people inspires fear in the others. Republicans then agree to meet with Obama and work out a compromise plan. In some versions of the fantasy, the result is a big compromise that includes deficit reduction and revenue-raising tax reform. At some point in the drama, a weaselly political adviser warns his boss that voting for the deal could cost him his job. â€œSo what?â€ the boss snarls. â€œItâ€™s better to be an ex-congressman than an irresponsible congressman.â€
However, Jon Walker at FDL does not agree that Presidential authority is as constrained as his fellow commentators believe. With brio, he presents his plan for steamrolling any opposition to more federal stimulus:
Obama should acknowledge the economy is bad, lay out a big direct jobs plan, and demand the GOP pass the whole thing. When the Republicans quickly make it clear they wonâ€™t pass the big jobs plan, Obama can publicly make it clear that Republican intransigence â€œforcedâ€ him to be creative with the powers he currently has. At this point, Obama should unilaterally implement his â€œPlan B,â€ creatively using unspent TARP money and using the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to implement massive mortgage refinancing and own-to-rent programs. If done right, itâ€™s a substantial stimulus.
Readers: The President’s jobs speech approaches. As Mel Allen used to say “You make the call”!