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Obama's Voting 'Present' on Deficits

1:42 PM, Mar 15, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Politico reports that, despite all the grandstanding around the creation of the deficit comission, Obama's M.I.A. when it comes to the issue:

When President Barack Obama opened the first meeting of his fiscal commission last April, he promised to be “standing with them” as they produced recommendations for curbing the nation’s escalating debt.

Republicans and Democrats say they are still waiting.When President Barack Obama opened the first meeting of his fiscal commission last April, he promised to be “standing with them” as they produced recommendations for curbing the nation’s escalating debt.

Republicans and Democrats say they are still waiting.

While Obama has said he’s committed to deficit reduction, he has also has made clear it is secondary, at least for now, to his “winning the future” agenda. And that reflects a strategy driven by what his senior aides believe voters care about most — jobs, not deficits.

Obama’s reluctance to join the debate in a sustained way has provoked rising frustration among lawmakers from both parties, who are speaking more forcefully about what they view as his absenteeism on one of the most pressing issues before them.

The problem here -- and I'm not sure that Democrats have woken up to this yet -- is that voters are increasingly aware that the size of government and reckless spending are linked to the health of the economy. The stimulus' failure went a long way toward convincing voters of that. Even if Obama does want to focus on jobs now, he's a bit late to the party. And what are the current proposals here? Green jobs? High speed rail? An infrastructure bank?

Even if it were possible to ignore deficit-reduction while focusing on jobs, wouldn't that require a set of convincing jobs policies? Or is it that Obama has to focus on these kinds of marginal efforts because more Keynesian spending policies are off the table politically, while the administration remains ideologically averse to regulatory and deficit reduction?

If that's the case, this is quite a corner Obama's painted himself into. Good luck with that.

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