Apparently, no matter how low the deficit goes or how much the president publicly repudiates the deficit framework, the White House is still offering what it offered back when the deficit was widely considered the greatest threat the world has ever known:
During an hour long interview looking back on his time at the White House and on the economic challenges that lay ahead, Krueger said Obama has not given up on reaching a so-called “grand bargain” debt and deficit deal with congressional Republicans.
The president admitted in his NY Times interview that the deficit "framework" has been "damaging" and perhaps he finally believes that. But that means he must really believe that the elderly are living high on the hog on their Social Security and need to be forced to shop a little more smartly. How else to explain why they continue to offer this deal?
“The president’s last offer to Speaker [John] Boehner is still on the table,” he said. “I think he had a very sensible balanced compromise on the table.”
Certainly that's what the Washington Post editorial board believes. Here's their comment on the President's speech:
By the tendentious standards of politics, it was okay for the president to challenge Republicans to come up with better ideas than his, while simultaneously portraying most of them as mindlessly bent on a government shutdown. What’s rather less forgivable, however, is that, even though the president of the United States is well into a highly promoted series of major addresses on the future of the U.S. economy, searching the text of his speeches for “entitlement reform” or “entitlement” yields nothing but “phrase not found.”
The Villagers are far from willing to give up their favorite stale tropes. They never are. Remember, there was a time not long ago when the deficit was gone and we had a projected surplus. They still fretted about the old people stealing the food out of baby's mouths.
Yes, Mr. Obama told Democrats that they “can’t just stand pat and just defend whatever government is doing.” Addressing Republicans, he pronounced himself “ready to work” on tax reform, or a “balanced, long-term fiscal plan that replaces the mindless cuts currently in place.”
But that’s a far cry from leveling with the public about the fact that Social Security, Medicare and the rest are crowding out other domestic priorities — including those that the president emphasized in his speeches — and that these programs are at the heart of the country’s long-term fiscal challenges, which have still not been addressed even as the deficit has declined in the short term.
Absent that kind of candor, Mr. Obama’s demand for “a long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort, to reverse the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades” rang hollow.
Here's a little reminder of the deficit hawk record on these projections:
August 28, 1996
CHICAGO - Sen. Bob Kerrey smells an odor coming from the Republican and Democratic stands on entitlements.
"It's one of the cruelest things we do, when we say, Republicans or Democrats, `Oh, we can wait and reform Social Security later,' " the Nebraska Democrat said.
Mr. Kerrey says that without reform, entitlements will claim 100 percent of the Treasury in 2012.
"This is not caused by liberals, not caused by conservatives, but by a simple demographic fact," Mr. Kerrey warned at a meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council.
"We [will have] converted the federal government into an ATM machine."
Even official projections have been, shall we say, off the mark ...
And yet the wealthy celebrities and aristocrats of the Village will never stop fear mongering that these programs are going to swallow up everything. If the president is on the same page then he could very well have been saying in his interview that "austerity" is damaging while still believing we need to destroy these programs in order to save them. This belief is not a policy in Washington DC -- it's a religion.
Leaving this December "offer" on the table after the change in numbers (as well as his welcome change in rhetoric) is not reassuring.