James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Obama on CNBC

September 20, 2010

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.”

Comments

The Tea Party seems to want to cut taxes and yet reduce the deficit. Does the phrase “Voodoo Economics” ring a bell?

Posted by Owly | Report as abusive
 

CNBC wasting energy to help keep the Obama doll inflated. Nice dog, no pony. All hat, no cattle.
Pied piper and manchurian candidate.

Posted by JP007 | Report as abusive
 

Yesterday’s CNBC session with the president was a stacked deck with participants faces beaming when Obama entered as though they had just seen the face of God.

As a teen (I am 75 now) my parents took me to New York and we saw a TV show being filmed. When applause was required, a person held up a sign reading applause and we all clapped. I had the feeling that Jeffrey Immelt’s CNBC had that same guy with the same ‘applause” sign working that room yesterday.

It was just an infomercial for the Obamaistas!

Posted by camper9574 | Report as abusive
 

Obama admitted he did not know the math behind the effects of spending and tax cut/increases. I get the feeling that since he got his Health Reform, Finreg and Stimulus package passed, he has lost interest in the economy except to smooth talk the average voter.

I sadly recognize that nothing in the way of economic improvement will happen until after the 1st of the year, and by that time the millions of middle and lower class folks will have no immediate way of bettering their economic position.

With the allowed lapse of the current income tax structure, the President and Congress will create a greater level of poverty by reducing the incomes of the retired populist further pushing another 10% to 15% to the poverty level.

Others like myself that are very disappointed with the President and Congress as a whole, have been and will continued to be ignored.

Congress and Obama have their protected perks and positions…let the little people eat cake, of in this case many not eat at all.

Posted by elijahblue | Report as abusive
 

Owly – I would happily take the economic prosperity that followed in the wake of Reaganomics. So would most, if not all, other Americans. What you deride as ‘voodoo economics’ laid the groundwork for astonishing properity from the early ’80s throught to the end of the Clinton administration. Mr. Obama, along with his advisors, still considers government – AKA ‘Washington’ – as THE major player in the US economy. How wrong he is. Two years of failed ‘stimulus’ policies, and a mountain of debt, is evidence enough.

Posted by Gotthardbahn | Report as abusive
 

Again: Treasury needs a taxpayer “Bail-In.” We need this system to improve before we can fix it. We need taxation based on a “tax bond” that returns based on tax-base improvements or keeps what it needs to pay some bills to leverage a better future. We also need to go to 32 hour work weeks to add employees and allow more family time. Other options would be far worse. Scientifically we need a competitive base to grow and yet protect innovation with protections. Survival of the fittest won’t work when you need a Doctor, Plumber, Electrician, Grocer, etc. and this is worth protecting.

Posted by phyvyn | Report as abusive
 

James, I enjoy your commentary on CNBC. That “Town Hall Meeting” was a sham. 1) The audience was packed with progressive democrats as evidence by the overwhelming applause after the President’s comment about how”assuming Sen. Boehner would be Speaker of the house was premature”. 2) Scaramucci obviously made some deal with the administration to be publically but gently chided by the POTUS in return for a shameless, “rubbing me on the back with a soul brother handshake photo-op” after the meeting. Can you say Shiela Jackson Scarramucci? I mean, seriously. And 3) why can’t the administration start these things on time? I mean, really….how far ahead was this scheduled? If it is supposed to start at 12:00, why make the American people wait. Obama has had….oh I quit counting….up-teen press conferences and I don’t believe even one has started on time.

Posted by Bentover | Report as abusive
 

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