What can I say about the President's half-assed "spending freeze" proposal that hasn't already been said about AIDS? While I've never been a fan of this guy, it would take a herculean effort to get me to ponder – not accept, but at least consider – the charges of his conservative opponents in 2008. Does this guy have the slightest idea what he's doing? Are we going to try a new macroeconomic policy every six months, or are we just slap-dashing bits and pieces of different policies together and hoping that the sum will be greater than the parts? This is just the latest in a string of attempts to "govern from the center" (i.e., do nothing) and it manages to be bad economics and bad politics simultaneously. That's hard to do; I guess Obama really is special after all.
On the one hand, as Ron Paul (!!!) was astute enough to note, the odds of much spending actually being cut by the time Congress caters to the demands of each individual member are slim. On the other, it signals that Obama had the balls for all of about 6 months of governing with any sort of coherent policy of his own. Now, with 58 Democrats in the Senate and an 80-seat majority in the House, he's moved on to full-blown Republican appeasement. Time to "reign in spending" and a bunch of other shit that Republican voters aren't going to care about anyway. I mean, why stick to your guns or follow through for the people who voted for you when you can bend over trying to appease people who hate you no matter what? Maybe the problem, as his supporters are slowly discovering, is that he had no guns to begin with. As I said repeatedly during the election, he offered us nothing but four years of centrist New Democrat bullshit. And he's delivering.
Reich and Krugman have plenty to say about why the economics are fundamentally unsound. Politically, this will pretty much guarantee the Democratic base sitting out the next couple of elections while winning the President exactly zero support from the right in the process. I'm not sure what he could propose that would be a bigger insult to the people who voted for him than a freeze on all non-military spending. Obviously if it's time to start tightening out belts (to achieve deficit reduction that voters won't even know happened) we should start with everything other than Iraq and Afghanistan. Idiot.
It's not the act itself that matters; anyone with a working knowledge of Congress understands that this will result in very little reduction in spending (if any). It's the absence of principles, absence of a backbone, and willingness to cave to the slightest political pressure that augurs badly for the next couple of years. You can't beat the Republicans at being Republicans. If voters want Republicans they'll vote for them. That our political choices since 1980 have been Republican and Republican Lite says everything we need to know about our current economic predicament and the overwhelming disinterest in politics among voters to the left of Trent Lott. Of course the teabaggers are excited. You would be too if you always got what you wanted, win or lose.