Fiscal crisis? What fiscal crisis? The stock market is up, unemployment is down and the deficit is shrinking.
The fiscal crisis is in Washington, and it’s a crisis of Washington’s own devising. All those deadlines! January 1: the fiscal cliff. March 1: sequesters. March 27: a possible government shutdown. Sometime in August: the debt ceiling, again.
The unending fiscal crisis could take up the entire year. President Barack Obama desperately wants to end it. For one thing, more spending cuts could bring on a recession. For another, an unending fiscal crisis would monopolize the agenda. No time for Congress to take up immigration reform or gun control or the minimum wage or preschool education.
What can Obama do? Here are the options:
1. The permanent campaign
Beginning in mid-February, the president tried to rally the public against the impending sequesters. He barnstormed the country, warning of the consequences and imploring voters to pressure Congress to resolve the impasse.
It didn’t work. Most voters had no idea what a sequester was. The cuts are not happening all at once, like a government shutdown. The public is also OK with across-the-board spending cuts (by a 2-to-1 margin in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll). Just don’t cut any specific programs.