Bad Ideas That Just Won’t Die
President Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, is a politics-over-policy guy. So it was interesting to hear him confess to ABC News last week that he only had two “white knuckle moments” during the reelection push - and one of them was after the awful August 2011 debt-ceiling deal (the other was Obama’s poor showing in the first debate, which rabid Obama defenders insisted was a fiction made up by Chris Matthews).
Of course, Messina’s reaction to the debt-ceiling deal had to do with politics, not policy, but it’s still revealing. “After the August debt-limit crisis … our numbers were, you know, historically low,” the political whiz said.
Indeed. After Obama and GOP leaders made a deal to avert a default - resulting in the ugly sequester cuts that are currently taking their toll on the economy as well as on Obama’s popularity - the president’s approval rating reached an all-time low. Gallup tracking polls had him at 39 percent in mid-August, which was the first time he’d dipped below the treacherous 40 percent mark as president.
Even more worrisome, there was evidence that voters disapproved of the way Obama handled the debt-ceiling crisis. A third of independents told pollsters they thought he didn’t fight Republicans hard enough - and a majority of Democratic-leaning independents, the real electoral prize for the president, felt that way. Obama’s numbers only climbed after he dropped his placating stance, crusaded for a jobs bill and developed a new populist tone. That’s all history.
Yet it’s history the administration doesn’t seem to remember, or, to be fair, apparently remembers differently. White House sources are now telling reporters that the president is “strongly considering” including entitlement cuts in his 2014 budget, to be introduced around April 10. The budget could lay out precise cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as Medicaid, that the president has reportedly been offering in futile negotiations with Republicans, but that he’s never officially spelled out.