The “spending freeze”

There's not much to say in terms of the economic issues, the real lesson is that politics is more constrained than many people think.  Berating Obama for his lack of courage or his "failure to get tough" is simply denying or postponing this fundamental realization.

All policy recommendations need to be analyzed within this framework.  How will your preferred policy (this includes deregulation and the like, by the way; I am not aiming this barb in any particular direction) play out when, in the middle of the action, government turns out to be extremely constrained in a way you do not like.

If you are surprised by this Obama announcement, that is indirect evidence that some of your other policy preferences are incorrect.


Peter Orzag, head of the OMB, said the most important thing to be done to fix the budget was to pass healthcare reform. He's right and it would be better economics and politics for Obama to push for this, rather than the spending freeze gimmick.

If you are surprised by this Obama announcement, that is indirect evidence that some of your other policy preferences are incorrect.

This seems a little smug. It's also confusing. Any time you're surprised, it shows that some of your beliefs are incorrect, but why does it show that any of your policy preferences are incorrect? And why 'other' policy preferences? Was there a first policy preference that was shown to be incorrect?

Are you going from is to must to ought? Or maybe from surprising is from the point of view of policy to constrained is from the point of view of politics?

Barandiaran, you got your "inept" zinger in there ... but how much does who's president even matter?

"This seems a little smug."

If you are surprised by this, it shows that some of your other blog reading preferences are incorrect.

"the real lesson is that politics is more constrained than many people think"...

I think the problem is that politics is more constrained than what Barack Obama thought... and that is the real issue. He gave this message of HOPE, and CHANGE, without really understanding the kind of politics and negotiations that go into it. Can't blame the nation for being disappointed with Obama. He didn't deliver what he promised. In some sense, just another politician.

Barandiaran, pundits were talking about increased polarization in American politics before Obama was elected. Phrases like "barbell politics" made the rounds. Now Obama's Approval Most Polarized for First-Year President. Given that the polarization predates Obama's term, I think it's hard to think he invented it. Simpler to think he inherited it, and that banal appeals for "leadership" miss the mark.

Never mind who's president, congress doesn't particularly want to solve this one. Why not? Congressional incentives? Agency issues?

This proposal to keep the overall level of discretionary spending constant for several years could turn out okay if the Obama administration had complete control over what gets cut and what is allowed to grow. But I'm concerned that, in implementing the freeze, the government will turn out to be extremely constrained in a way I do not like.

John Personna,
Life is full of opportunities for good leaders to leave their mark. Take the case of Haiti earthquake and tell me how you rate Obama's performance in the context of the long relationship of your country with Haiti.

If by incorrect you mean has no chance of being legislated, then alright.

Well, "surging" a large number of troops to Afghanistan (twice) certainly constituted an increase in spending from the baseline. The stimulus package was utterly huge. And the general budget last year was not "frozen".

I suspect the spending freeze is mostly a gimmick (still waiting for the President to go "line by line" through the budget). In general, I'll disagree with Tyler Cowen here. Yes, politicians are constrained, but I don't know that they're constrained more or less than "most people think". They're constrained by political realities of getting votes, but there is lots of room for ingenuity and leadership within the agenda space. In short, there's lots of room for mischief. Especially for someone who seems to be a true believer and think they'd rather be remembered as a "great one-term president" than have two terms.

That should be a frightening statement. It suggests he's willing to "get tough" in ways that sensible politicians are not, and so truly believes his (unpopular) views will end up being vindicated that he's willing to lose in order to cram them down our throat.

Obama's political experience was in the Illinois state senate and the United States Senate.
Emmanuel's political experience was in the House of Representatives.

It's true that they had to win voters in Chicago in order to win their offices. However, Obama has also won statewide and nationwide office quite easily. So what is this recurring "Chicago politics" theme supposed to mean? How does it differ from politics anywhere else?

Does it involve a lot of "thugs"?

The constraint is the bad economic theory that has been adopted whole hog in the face of the evidence as gospel truth because the economists have promised free lunches.

The only rational thing from an engineering or manufacturing process standpoint following Deming is to reset back to the government and Fed policies at a time when the economy worked.

Pick one: 1965, 1985, 1995. Even 1980, 1990, 2000 were better.

What was the action taken in 1982 in response to what was seen as the worst economy since the great depression other than to roll back the government policies of Reagan? What can you call the changes in government policy in 1990 and 1993 other than a further rollback of 1981 Reagan policies?

Why are economists not constrained by history and facts?

Is economics more like science, or as it seems, more like religion, arguing that the world is only 6000 years old, created purely by tax cuts and no government.

This freeze promise is less than what he promised in his 3rd debate with McCain -- after the Sept 08 financial crisis.

I'm not surprised he keeps promising something he won't deliver.

Comparing Obama to Bush is lame

You know what else is lame? Lack of reading comprehension...

See, when responding to the argument that Obama has outspent every previous president, it seems perfectly reasonable to compare Obama to Bush.

re: "politics is more constrained than many people think."

No. The Senate has become completely dysfunctional. It was not this gridlocked leading up to the Civil War.

Fairly consistent majorities have been opposed to both policies for quite a while.

a significant percentage of those opposed believe the policies don't go far enough, esp. re healthcare.

i realize republican talking points like to ignore this fact but that doesn't make it untrue.

Sorry, I meant we collected more in 2008 than we did when Bush started office. I didn't look at last year

Obama still thinks government can create jobs. The middle class didn't need rebuilding until he came to town. The more he spends, the more we will see tax increases down the road. Businesses are not going to hire workers if taxes are going up.

Can someone please point me to the theory that posits that tax increases create jobs or some type of study which shows that? I've read this from mulp on probably 10 different threads, but haven't seen any actual evidence outside of 'correlation equals causation', i.e. Clinton raised tax rate and the economy expanded hence tax rate increases are good for job creation.

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