I can admit when I'm wrong. Part of the point of starting the Pickle was to air my thoughts, and sometimes reactionary emotions, on politics. In doing so, I'm bound to be wrong part of the time. This week might just be the best example. In fact, it's looking more and more like that's the case.
Granted, I don't know yet.
And yet, I get the sense that the President understood the difference between a battle and the war. I over-reacted this week, hoping that President Obama would stand up and "act like the President." Well, it is becoming clear he was just waiting for the appropriate time. 2011? Hah. 2012? Not really. $4.0 trillion over the next 12 years? That's more like it.
Last week, I complained that Rep. Boehner was putting up a fight at the wrong time (i.e. the last few months of the 2011 fiscal year) and President Obama wasn't doing anything about it. It appears that this was a calculated plan so that President Obama could avoid the nonsense of the last few weeks and take charge of "the war," as it were, addressing the long-term budget.
From the New York Times tonight -
"Mr. Obama said his proposal would cut federal budget deficits by a cumulative $4 trillion over 12 years, compared with a deficit reduction of $4.4 trillion over 10 years in the Republican plan. But the president said he would use starkly different means, rejecting the fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Republicans and relying in part on tax increases on affluent Americans.
The president framed his proposal as a balanced alternative to the Republican plan, setting the stage for a debate that will consume Washington in coming weeks, as the administration faces off with Congress over raising the national debt ceiling, and into next year, as the president runs for re-election."
Now, I have not yet watched tonight's speech. I was in Constitutional Law, of all things, until around 8:30 and didn't get home until 9:30. From what I've heard from friends (thanks, Corey!) and from what I'm reading, there is no question that the President threw down the gauntlet and is willing to take on a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
Another quote from the Times piece, referencing the Republican's budget plan:
“These are the kind of cuts that tells us we can’t afford the America that I believe in,” he said. “I believe it paints a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic.”
The hope for America that was so evident in the campaign is back and President Obama is once again prepared to use his strength as an orator and campaigner to fight this highly political battle. Just tonight, the Republicans have already fought back and I think we can expect a highly partisan and ideological battle. Regardless of how you feel about the national debt, deficit and budget crisis, the fact of the matter is that we need to have this conversation...and we need to have it now!
I do not know what the answer is or if anyone's plan is substantially better than the others. What I do know, is that the President (for whom I voted) has decided it is time to have a substantive debate on our long-term financial health. Will every decision he makes jive with my preferences? Probably not. But we've decided that it's time for the serious people to figure this thing out and I hope that President Obama maintains his focus and momentum so that we can do just that.
The country's tedious (and I'm being generous) financial position was not created in a year or even in a single administration, and I don't expect President Obama to solve it this year either. But I am happy that we're finally seeing his willingness to "go to the mattresses" and have a substantive debate with Boehner and Ryan on what's best for the country. Like I said, I'm not sure what the answer is. It's probably somewhere in between Rep. Ryan's plan and President Obama's, but at least we're having the debate. Finally!
And I admit it. I was pessimistic that anything productive was going to come out of the "almost government shutdown" last week. And yet, here we are. I was wrong. Hopefully, President Obama was right.