Obama on CNBC
The president participated in a town hall meeting earlier today on CNBC. A few thoughts on the event:
1. He noticeably dodged a question about whether, in the name of fiscal prudence, all the Bush tax cuts should eventually be left to expire. That is the position of his former budget chief, Peter Orszag, as well as that of many deficit hawks. It does seem strange for him to say America cannot afford the upper-income tax cuts, but also support the lower-income tax cuts which cost far more, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
2. He seems to think the Tea Party crowd is a “Party of No” manifestation with no real agenda other than to complain about his policies. But that is not how I read them at all. For instance, many activists are big fans of the Fair Tax and Paul Ryan’s budget-cutting Roadmap for America’s Future.
3. The POTUS said tax rates were as low as they were under Ronald Reagan. When Reagan left office, the top marginal rate on ordinary income was 28 percent. Today it is 35 percent, and Obama wants it to go to 40 percent. More evidence the White House thinks America undertaxed.
4. More evidence the economic New Normal may create a political New Normal. The first question was telling. It was from an Obama supporter who was very frustrated by the pace of the recovery:
I’m one of your middle class Americans. And quite frankly I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.
Obama stuck to his guns, arguing the measures he had undertaken since taking office in January 2009 were slowly pulling the country back to health:
My goal here is not to try to convince you that everything’s where it needs to be — it’s not. That’s why I ran for president. But what I am saying is … that we’re moving in the right direction.
5. Overall, the crowd seemed anti-bank, anti-China, pro-Obama.
6. Certainly the big quote of the day was when he said his economic team had done an “outstanding job.”