Well, the President is going to be putting down some markers this morning. The Los Angeles Times has a preview:
President Obama will call for shrinking the nation's long-term deficits by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and requiring them to pay more into Social Security, drawing a barbed contrast with a Republican plan to save money by deeply slashing Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic spending.So much for the freakout crowd's "ZOMG Obama is going to starve old people!" I remember saying back during the tax-cut and unemployment benefits deal in December that certain short term things needed to be taken care of so that we can finally have a much-needed big-ideas debate in this country about the budget and our priorities - including taxes, spending, and fundamentally, the proper role of government: not big or small government but essential and effective government. That is a debate in which the American people solidly side with the progressives.
Obama will offer some spending cuts, including trims to the Pentagon's budget, but his speech Wednesday is likely to provide Americans with a vivid choice between higher taxes or fewer benefits, issues that will color the national debate straight through the 2012 election.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put the debate in succinct terms:
"We strongly disagree with the lack of balance in Congressman Ryan's approach," Carney said. "It simply is not appropriate and it would not be supported by the American people to have a fiscal plan that relies on dramatic restructuring, reform of the kind of programs that provide security and health security to seniors and to poor people and to disabled people, and at the same time gives enormous tax relief, tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans."The President is not afraid of this fight and he knows the right moment to pick it. The Republicans have ruined the country's fiscal health, and with the help of the puritan Left's full cooperation, gained back the House last November. But cleaning up this mess will require a concerted effort, serious people, and a great debate on what we really want the role of government to be rather than one-sided campaigns of 13-second sound bites.
So the question is this. Will the people on the puritan left who take perverted pleasure in berating the President finally stand with him in this fight? Will they swallow their outsized egos, admit they were premature and wrong in threatening this president politically and join forces to stand up for our values, for our seniors, for the poor and the middle class? Or will they choose to continue to whine because they have already decided that whatever the President proposes will not be "big enough" or "good enough" or "ballsy enough?" Will they stand against Paul Ryan's selling out of America? Or will they continue their self-aggrandizing path of pony politics?
That's a choice for them to make. And then the rest of us will have a choice to make. If they won't stand with us on this very crucial fight, we must make the choice to dump them out, disown them from the progressive movement, and work hard to build not professional left noise machine but a bright future.
Also, use this as your late night/early morning open thread!