President Obama may be making a critical mistake in judgment if he believes that offering a three-year budget freeze on (mostly) domestic spending will increase his popularity and appeal to the so-called “Populist/Independent” voter. There are two lines of faulty logic at play with this decision: First, it makes Obama look wishy -washy and indecisive as this freeze counteracts the very policy that he made central to his first term in office – the economic stimulus plan, which increased spending in order to reduce unemployment and encourage economic growth. That plan was only marginally successful, but this freeze will negate even that minor stimulating effect. Adding insult to injury, by eliminating federal supplements to state budgets and all jobs programs, Obama’s solution will likely leave us in worse economic shape than when he assumed office, with higher unemployment numbers than before.
And the freeze doesn’t make good, fiscal sense. It only applies to specific domestic spending programs (which are a part of the budget that never grows very fast anyway) and will have very little effect on the overall tremendous budget deficits that Raisin Brain ran through the roof with his illegal, expensive wars during his eight disastrous years in office.
Obama’s original stimulus plan was too tepid at the start to really make a significant difference. Swinging the financial pendulum all the way to the other side with a freeze – before there is meaningful recovery – could be devastating. It seems like a rash overreaction to falling poll numbers and an attempt to cling to those Independent swing voters that helped get him elected.
Which brings us to the second flaw in the logic behind the proposed freeze – the vain attempt to understand the mind of the Independent voter. I’ve always believed that self-proclaimed “Independents” were a largely arrogant bunch who brag about being free-thinkers when the reality is they simply are too indecisive, indifferent, or afraid to pick a side. The term “Undecideds” fits them better than “Independents.” Like their cohorts in the Libertarian Party, they’re a vocal clump of voters with an over inflated opinion of their own importance. They’re often loud-mouthed blowhards who like to criticize everybody and everything, and believe that claiming “Independent voter” status gives them the right to flip-flop from election to election and waffle from issue to issue without actually having the courage, integrity, or loyalty to stand by any position or candidate. Of course this is not true of all Independents, but they are by definition a mercurial group that defies categorization, and therefore any effort at predicting their behavior is pointless and risky.
It seems that Obama’s new economic policy, which reverses and negates his stated policy, delivers a “populist” message designed to stop the hemorrhage of his Independent (Undecided) supporters. According to the preview of the State of the Union Address the White House has give thus far, Obama will push for middle-class tax cuts, increased subsidies for military families, and the “budget freeze” on domestic spending. But Team Obama is again “misunderestimating” the power of the NeoCon media machine, now bolstered by the recent one-two-three punch of the pro-corporate Supreme Court campaign finance decision, the wildly overblown demise of Air America Radio, and the landslide election of Scott “Too Sexy For My Shirt” Brown. The most damaging failure of the new administration is that it lost control of its message and allowed the Flying Monkey Right to frame the issues.
Expect Hannity, Beck, the Oxymoron, et al to open their spin-machines full-throttle tomorrow. By week’s end the nation will be whipped into a foaming tea-party frenzy over Obama’s outrageous new plan to steal from the middle-class, raise taxes, decimate the military, and increase government spending. Just watch and wait; it won’t take long.
Worse, none of these policy changes and reversals will increase Obama’s popularity with his ideologically driven Democratic base. Some argue that the “base” Democrats are behaving like spoiled children, expecting Obama to magically erase the last eight years of death and destruction (both foreign and domestic) and are pounding their fists on the floor because it isn’t happening soon enough. But, the reality is that Team Obama promised much, and has delivered very little: caving on health care before the debate really began, offering further government bailouts to Wall Street, and increasing troop presence in Afghanistan while collecting a Nobel Peace Prize. There is valid reason for deep frustration from the Liberal base of what remains of the Democratic Party.
These disappointed Democrats are the folks who organize get-out-the-vote rallies, fundraising parties, volunteer at phone banks, spend their free time designing pro-Obama web sites, paper their neighborhoods with literature, and speak out at PTA meetings and community centers. With shouts of “Yes We Can!” and (hybrid) car trunks full of “Change We Can Believe In” yard signs and bumper stickers. They pumped the energy that drove Obama to the White House. The “Undecideds” merely trailed passively behind, content to ride the tailwind.
Independent voters, in recent history, may have decided elections, but they certainly haven’t driven them. If Obama loses the powerful engine of the Democratic base, he may well lose the next election. This frightening possibility becomes more vivid in light of the power the Supreme Court last week gave corporations to both decide candidates and drive election results.
Can you say . . . . President Palin? Without throwing up a bit in the back of your throat?