Obama May Ask for More Stimulus

by Andrew Stiles

My piece yesterday examined President Obama’s dilemma when it comes to the economy. Either he can push for what he genuinely believes is the answer to all our problems — more government spending — or he can do what most Americans (and his team of political advisers) think he should do and let go of his Keynesian fantasy. Now it looks as though he may have settled on a third option in an effort to have his stimulus cake and eat it too. The Wall Street Journal reports:

President Barack Obama is considering recommending that lawmakers on a deficit committee back new measures to stimulate the lagging economy, people familiar with White House discussions said Tuesday.

But it’s not really another stimulus, you see, because the president will ask the supercommittee to propose a super huge deficit-reduction plan to make up for it:

The plan Mr. Obama is considering also would recommend the congressional committee come up with a package that reduces the federal budget deficit by much more that its mandate of $1.5 trillion over the next decade, a senior administration official said, through changes in the tax code and social safety-net programs.

“There’s no reason to stop at $1.5 trillion,” the official said.

Mr. Obama hasn’t agreed to a set of proposals, people familiar with the discussions said, but the White House will begin to decide on elements of the plan in coming days. Mr. Obama is expected to make some decisions by Thursday.

Mr. Obama said in Iowa that when Congress returns from recess in September he will put forward “a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs, and to control our deficit.” He will unveil his plan before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s first meeting on Sept. 16.

A “very specific plan,” you say? Good, I was afraid we might be in store for yet another innocuous lecture. Wait, I spoke too soon:

Seeking a jolt for the economy, President Barack Obama will lay out new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class in a major speech in early September, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The president’s plan is likely to contain tax cuts, jobs-boosting infrastructure ideas and steps that would specifically help the long-term unemployed. The official emphasized that all of Obama’s proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks and still supports, including his “infrastructure bank” idea to finance construction jobs.

Are really going to do this again? Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck tweets what we’re all thinking: “We really don’t need another speech – just a plan, like, on paper. Seriously, just drop it in the mail. Podium not required. Thanks.” This “news” that the president will present another “plan” (of the spoken-word variety) really lays bare the fact that his recent bus tour was just a glorified campaign stunt and that Obama still has no clue when it comes to leading on the economy. AP also echoes the WSJ report on the “plan” the president will pitch to the supercommittee:

On a related front, Obama will also present a specific plan to cut the suffocating long-term national debt and to pay for the cost of his new short-term economic ideas.

His debt proposal will be bigger than the $1.5 trillion package that a new “supercommittee” of Congress must come up with by late November.

The president will then spend his fall publicly pressing Congress to take action as the economic debate roars into its next phase. Both the economic ideas and the plan to pay for them will be part of Obama’s speech, although the address will focus mainly on the jobs components.

Okay, so this “plan” involves even more campaigning. Can’t blame him really. After all, by Obama’s own admission, his “executive experience” is derived primarily from his “ability to manage large [political campaigns].” He’s just doing what comes naturally. That said, someone might want to inform him that he already got the job three years ago, and now might be a good time to start doing it.

UPDATE: House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) responds:

In the third year of his term, Americans are still asking President Obama, ‘Where are the Jobs?’  That’s why Republicans, in contrast to the Democrats who run the White House and Senate, have made creating a better environment for job creation our number one focus. From our Path to Prosperity budget to our Plan for America’s Job Creators – which was built on our Pledge to America – House Republicans have laid out a clear, consistent jobs agenda, and acted on it. The House has passed legislation to remove barriers to private-sector job creation, ease job-destroying regulations, expand American energy production, and significantly reduce our unsustainable debt burden. The House has led, but unfortunately we cannot act alone. Too many House-passed jobs bills remain stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and we continue to urge our colleagues in the Senate to act.

To get our economy moving, what the American people need from the President is leadership and serious solutions that reflect a true change in his approach to our economy and the role of government. We welcome him to our ongoing efforts to help create jobs, and look forward to seeing a detailed plan next month. It is my hope the President will offer specific proposals that depart from his previous policies and allow us to find common ground and work together to put Americans back to work. In the meantime, Republicans will continue to advance solutions that will reduce economic uncertainty and create a better environment for private-sector job creation.

UPDATE II: Looks like Senate Democrats are all aboard the stimulus ship as well. In a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D., Nev.) appointees to the deficit supercommittee — Sens. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and John Kerry (D., Mass.) — try as subtly as possible to endorse new spending measures. “We know that our goal is to reduce spending,” they write. “But we also know that America faces not just a budget deficit but also a jobs deficit.”

Translation: Reducing spending is important, but not as important as increasing spending. This is pretty standard Democratic boilerplate — “(insert fiscally responsible proposal) is important, but we must also (insert litany of fiscally irresponsible proposals).” Expect to hear a lot more of it in the months ahead.

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