The Obama Budget Strategy

by Ramesh Ponnuru

My new Bloomberg View column:

The political bet seems clear enough: Voters may want the budget balanced, but they aren’t going to tolerate the steps needed to get there, and so Obama can win the debate by attacking the Republicans’ proposals and not offering real ones of his own. (It’s the same strategy Republicans have used against Obama’s health-care plan.)

The more interesting question is what Obama’s economic bet is. Could he be counting on having the flexibility to balance the budget in his second term in ways he cannot openly discuss now?

One possibility I didn’t discuss for reasons of space: Obama may believe that the threat of automatic, across-the-board tax increases will force Republicans to make a “grand bargain” on his terms.