Obama’s centrist shift evaporates

February 18, 2011

President Barack Obama’s much-trumpeted move to the center? Apparently, it doesn’t go much beyond using buzzwords such as “innovation” and employing CEOs as stage props. His 2012 budget introduction and Wisconsin incursion make that clear.

This was the week for the president to show that he had really learned the lessons of both the 2010 midterms and the shortfalls of his own economic policies. Instead, it was the American public that learned something. It learned that Obama pretty much is who he is – and he’s probably not going to change.

He’s the guy who was the U.S. Senate’s most extreme liberal. He’s the guy who told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to “spread the wealth around.” He’s the guy who tried to use the Great Recession to greatly expand the welfare state.

He’s that guy.

Obama’s 2012 budget was the first revelatory moment of the week. Even with rosy economic projections, it would still add another $9 trillion to the national debt from 2011 through 2021. And it did nothing to address entitlements, the key drivers of America’s long-term fiscal problems, even though his own debt commission gave him a plan with bipartisan support.

Even worse, Obama attempted to hide the budget’s alarming profligacy. In his news conference, Obama stated that by the middle of the decade, his just-released budget would “not be adding more to the national debt. …  We’re not going to be running up the credit card anymore.” Yet from 2015 through 2021, the Obama budget would add $4.7 trillion to the national debt. And public debt as a share of the overall economy would rise to 77.0 percent from 76.1 percent.

But the president tossed in a qualifier: “Our annual spending will match our annual revenues.” Well, that clears things up. If you don’t count $3.7 trillion in interest payments as part of spending, the budget is balanced in 2017 and then slowly builds a tiny surplus.

Yet Obama’s narrowly define surpluses will quickly disappear in coming decades as government healthcare spending explodes. And if the economy grows a bit more slowly than what White House economists now forecast — say, more like the predictions from the Congressional Budget Office — Obama’s primary deficits would never disappear at all.

But just as entitlements are the root problems of the federal budget, at the state level it’s the fat pension and healthcare benefits — unfunded to the tune of $3.5 trillion — awarded to government unions by the politicians they elected.

The result is the Battle of Madison as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin tries to get a handle on a budget shortfall of $3.6 billion, as well as longer-term fiscal problems. He probably didn’t expect an encouraging word for the White House, and he was not disappointed.

As Obama told a Milwaukee television reporter: “Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions.”

Entitlements and government unions are both products of the heyday of American liberalism from the 1930s through the 1970s. Just like when Mikhail Gorbachev ascended to power in the old Soviet Union with the goal of modernizing and preserving that system, Obama hopes to do the same with America’s union-backed welfare state by making it — and funding it — more like Europe’s.

If Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey are successful at the state level and Rep. Paul Ryan at the national, Obama may instead preside over its collapse.

33 comments

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[...] don’t say! James Pethokoukis: President Barack Obama’s much-trumpeted move to the center? Apparently, it doesn’t go much [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elizabeth Scalia, Rae MacGhillielaidir, 13oclock, Derrick Butler, penguinponders and others. penguinponders said: RT @JimPethokoukis: Poof! Obama's "centrist shift" evaporates http://reut.rs/eMdIIS [...]

[...] James Pethokoukis at Reuters, Obama’s centrist shift evaporates: President Barack Obama’s much-trumpeted move to the center? Apparently, it doesn’t go much [...]

Jimmy, as usual, you are right on. Most informed Americans understand that Obama NEVER thought about and NEVER initiated a real move to the center. He is hellbent on transforming the USA into a welfare society that soaks individuals and companies with real initiative and assets. Truly, he is a socialist…who else would appoint Czars to key posts without ANY accountability to Congress or the people.

Posted by 4all5 | Report as abusive

Not to worry! as soon as the republicans say BOO He’ll nuckel under. He’ s that kind of ” for the good of the country ” B.S. kind of demacrat

Posted by Dave1968 | Report as abusive

What a crock.

The Republicans are a despicable group of hypocrites, and James Pethokoukis is one of their most dependable water boys.

What happened to the Republican pledge that everything they pass has to decrease the debt? From a companion Reuters story:

“The House also voted to overturn the Pentagon’s decision to close the Joint Forces Command facility in Virginia.

But it rejected Democratic attempts to cap farm subsidies and to close a loophole so oil companies would have to pay up to $53 billion in royalties for drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/1 9/us-usa-budget-idUSTRE71G6CQ20110219

The amazing thing is how many ordinary Americans are so stupid (or greedy over the $50/yr the get from the Bush tax cuts) that they don’t understand the Republicans have been raping them for the last 30 years.

Reagan tripled THE NATIONAL DEBT, not just the deficit, and Cheney told Secretary of the Treasury Oneill that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” while Bush II doubled the debt again. And yet the Republicans claim to be so upset over deficit spending during the worst financial crisis in 80 years.

The top 1% had 9% of national income in 1980, now they have 24%. But it’s still not enough.

People who voted for the TP candidates will get what they deserve. Unfortunately, the rest of us will be stuck with the same result.

Posted by hmp49 | Report as abusive

Jimmy needs to think for himself instead of spooning out pole driven talking points…most extreme liberal in the senate (said that about Hillary Clinton up until the President got the nomination), told sam the Plumber(that lie started with “joes” name) that when prosperity spreads through the economy it spreads the wealth around same ol same ol. The fright wing conservatives make there living on class warfare.
Who pays Jimmy anyways? Thats right.

Posted by right-thinker | Report as abusive

This article is a JOKE. Republicans got us into this mess, and Obama is mitigating the disaster they caused as much as possible without completely mowing over the poor and middle class– who were BY FAR hit the hardest by the economic downturn. Unemployment peaked 3 MONTHS after he took office. Do you even know WTF momentum is? Did you graduate from High School??

I hear this Darwinism BS all of the time from Republicans. Let the weak perish. After coddling their social conservative voters, they go and relentlessly attack the weak and voiceless. The truth is that millionaires and billionaires can spend a hell of a lot more money convincing a whole lot more people what the right thing to do is than the regular honest Joe working in an auto plant. If that weren’t true, the Carleton Sheets, Donald Trumps, and other “get rich quick” mofos wouldn’t be duping people out of their retirements right and left.

Wake the hell up. Life is a lot more complicated than you give it credit for. If you think the best way to cut spending is to start by cutting off programs (like education) that give people a chance at some degree of social mobility, then you are one uncompassionate, greedy, morally corrupt individual.

And screw you for fooling the TP’s into voting Republican! Welfare state my rear end. We’re pushing the poor off a cliff.

Posted by cfrb83 | Report as abusive

Republicans are also trying to get a reduction in tax rates for money corporations earn overseas when the bring that money back to America.

And the IRS is kind enough to offer amnesty to people who have money in off-shore accounts for purposes of tax evasion. Those “citizens” should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive

Alright. I was inspired to register for the website on the basis of this article. Honestly though I’m pretty shocked someone with your credentials is able to come to some of these conclusions, and as such I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you have decided, like most not interested in Obama’s re-election, to declare any action by him as incompetent at best if not downright Socialist.

Probably the most hilarious part of this article is where you explain that this budget results in adding 9 trillion to the debt in the coming decade. You are correct, sir, Mr. Obama had added in 9 trillion of fresh spending and investments for the next decade, its probably the damn OBAMACARE [even with the iffy math on whether this will cut the deficit or not, I think its safe to say its about break-even...oh yeah and the moral accomplishment of not being the only country--best country?--in the world where health care is a right and not a privilege? suspect this may not be a concern for you, and frankly not for me either, but I do have a conscience...and I digress]. The fact is this contribution to the debt you describe is in almost no way a function of policy decisions by Obama but rather something we have been destined for since Bush’s tenure and, in fairness, the fiscal structure that began to materialize many decades before (but lets face it, the combination of the effectively $1 trillion war in Iraq, plus absolutely worthless tax cuts for much of wealthy America, another cool trillion?, have done more to contribute to the debt and coming deficits than Obama could ever hope to achieve in the remainder of his years, INCLUDING his next 4, sorry Charlie; in this you could even include the bailouts, which absolutely any President at the time would have done in basically the exact same way; do you disagree with this?).

So then what do you propose..James. Probably should just do what the Republicans are proposing, right, cut 3 tril instead of 1? We wont even bother to mention in detail how pathetically these cuts have been directed against Democratic initiatives, but the bottom line is 100% politics and 0% substance; and I get the same general sense from your article here.

I’m not saying President Obama’s solution is perfect, or that all of his decisions have been right on to this point. I’m not saying I believe wealthy America should have to finance the remainder of the country. But the basis of your critique here, that Obama isn’t getting rid of the deficit and/or debt problem in his 2012 budget, is absurd. This is not a realistic goal. Rather, this is an attempt to cut what can be cut while maintaining funding for certain initiatives that seem most important to our development as a country–I understand there may be debate about what these things are, but this is a separate and necessary debate that should be what the Congress actually focuses on rather than projectile-vomiting talking points and failing to think constructively on ANY level. This is also, as most people who follow any of this at all, a politically measured document that does not look to say too much before the battles of this year unfold, especially regarding Medicare and Social Security which are basically half of all spending.

Ultimately this budget received fire from the left and the right the second it came out. That itself underlies the fact it steers a middle path, even if the admin didn’t intend it to (of course they did). Still, it is the basis for a discussion about how we can really find some solutions to this, not a solution by itself–anything Obama could have said would have been met by massive resistance, and this is a sad truth that has dramatically impacted his ability to govern for the next while. I’m sure he would love to propose the vast majority of the proposals set forth by his own Budget Commission, but he suspects (correctly, I fear) that the GoP and gents such as yourself would opt to shoot them down blindly “as further steps towards a welfare state”, riding the wave of anti-Obama sentiment, instead of realizing this are TRULY BIPARTISAN ideals. I hope this is not the case, and that you are interested in contributing to the dialogue of finding solutions to this problem rather than discounting the earnest attempts of our President and so many others to do just that. Nobody said it was perfect, but it aint no conspiracy bro. You sure as hell aren’t accomplishing anything writing nonsense like this.

p.s. Truly massive cute like the Republicans are proposing would be devastating for a recovering and ‘fragile’ economy as in our current state. Its not rocket science, its simple stuff a Keynes-lover such as yourself no doubt understands. So there is either a deliberate attempt to make this girl tank harder under the dark one’s watch and get him out of office, or a complete ignorance of what is going on. I hope you are at least without as much shame as to be in the first category.

Posted by stroomd | Report as abusive

It’s pretty clear that you Marxists believe anyone earning over $250K/year should have all their wealth confiscated. Why encourage investment and economic growth? Just demand everyone’s wealth and use it to build furhter social programs.

Obama is clearly a Marxist!

Posted by SGK12 | Report as abusive

So by claiming President Obama is a Marxist then you believe that his aim ultimately is that we will live in a society where their is no State (which has whithered away), and that individuals act freely and collectively for both the individual and common good…

Oh my God…Marx was the original Tea Bagger!!!

And the Tea Party is Marxist!!

Posted by right-thinker | Report as abusive

[...] James Pethokoukis at Reuters (“Obama’s centrist shift evaporates”) nails the bigger picture — “This was the week for the president to show that he had really learned the lessons of both the 2010 midterms and the shortfalls of his own economic policies. Instead, it was the American public that learned something. It learned that Obama pretty much is who he is – and he’s probably not going to change.” [...]

OMG the eeeeeevil unions!
I’ll just leave Mr. Pethokoukis with this little historical fact.
Totalitarian governments have always banned unions.
Democratically run countries with healthy economies all have strong labor unions.
Where do you stand, James?

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive

Interesting comments, from people in the US about a US issue (I am in the UK). But please, limit them to about 6 lines – I (and I bet many others) simply don’t read comments longer than that. If you’re the next Noam Chomsky, good luck to you – but put it in a book, not here!

Posted by CO2-Exhaler | Report as abusive

James Pethokoukis, you and your off kilter wording of “Obama’s” “Centrist Shift” has no real meaning in English as a language because you and Obama, deceitfully have not spelled anything out in precise terms from any perspective.

Obama a “socialist” “Marxist” don’t make me laugh Obama has out done the Republicans in being “republican” after all he called for a freeze of federal civil service salaries, support more Homeland security than homeland security than homeland security.

It all the same with establishment spin doctors like you wasting pixels by your running at the mouths today only to contradict yourself tomorrow.

American political rhetoric is the worse in the world only because of the two party system which often makes Democrats and Republicans indistinguishable fools of the same exact whore house as without honor they advance themselves without pride or integrity.

Perhaps you should write about how Goldman Sachs should be prosecuted for their criminal involvement in manipulating Greek Bonds, pulling the wool over the EU’s eyes.

Posted by srjmsbnd | Report as abusive

Does the mainstream media still think that it is fooling any past those who wish to be fools? Pethokoukis could have saved a lot of time by simply copying whatever the Tea Party Express is handing their “Serfdom Riders.”

Posted by SamLBronkowitz | Report as abusive

James Pethokoukis is pretty ignorant for an ex-Jeopardy champion. The deficits started with Reagan and were continued by Bush # 2.

Posted by F.J.Christopher | Report as abusive

Republicans, destroying America since 2001.

Posted by almost_homeless | Report as abusive

The right wing blogosphere is saturated with articles proclaiming that “FDR opposed public employee unions”.

This is a LIE.

He was against strikes by public employees, but not against their unions. Here’s what he really said:

“Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”"

and:

“The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry.”

Nevertheless, we have the right broadcasting this attempt at rewriting history. They really have no shame, none at all.

Posted by Infiltrator | Report as abusive

Hey, I’m in agreement with you this time, guy!
(Unlike these others.)
Wis HAS to salvage democracy. Right now, it is becoming pretty communistic. The powerful public service workers (17% of the workforce) are the largest, wealthiest political action group in the state to the tune of $100 million going to purchase candidates who’ll promote only the public service group’s agenda…that of milking every private sector man, woman and child into poverty.

These public service workers are using public tax dollars from the whole of Wisconsin. The whole of the public doesn’t have a say as to THE service group’s agenda, yet the whole is still forced to fund it, whether they like it or not.

And the more impoverished the whole becomes, the lesser and lesser likely the whole will be able to fund any opposition to a growing political machine.

The union protests in Wisconsin, and the approval of Obama, are about the thwarting of any attempts to stop this imbalance and bring back rightful democracy.

Even on the national level, the public sector workforce has tripled in size. It is to Obama’s liberal agenda to support even bigger government, which translates into more cash flow and more power.

We’ve got to get back to balanced democracy.

Posted by limapie | Report as abusive

In Anne Tyler’s Noah’s Compass, a man in his 60′s is described as winding down his life to the bemusement of this daughters, adjusting his wardrobe so that he will die with all his clothes worn out. There is no chance that compromise, as civil as it may be, will solve the deficit. Higher taxes on the “rich” is the one “hard” choice almost everyone can agree on, but it is a band-aid, as Europe proves. The rich, it seems, do not mind being taxed as much as people making 200K. But unless you tax the middle class–as did Clinton–there is no desire to reduce spending. To cut spending the middle class must see the poor as the enemy. Obama has mad the rich the enemy of the middle class–well, the middle class who are doing OK the enemy of the middle class who didn’t quite do as well as they had hoped.

Cutting spending is simply too unpopular, because services that we got along without until 10 years ago are “essential.” Inflation will, in a sense, solve the deficit. Chaney was right: deficits do not matter politically, unless higher interest rates kill off the economy. It seems that the Fed has decided higher rates are not an option.

Few of the boomers will be able to retire and collect the entitlements to which they thought, once, they were entitled. The transfer of wealth has already taken place. Boomers have paid for their parents’ nursing homes and their kids’ tuition–after paying off their own college loans and mortgages. And now they are expected to wind themselves down.

Posted by vincent31 | Report as abusive

Public employees are not negotiating the way private employees do. They are supporting Democratic politicians who give them what they want to stay in power. FDR merely said public and private employees have the right to decent working conditions. He obviously did not think they have the same way of getting them.

Posted by vincent31 | Report as abusive

In Anne Tyler’s Noah’s Compass, a man in his 60′s is described as winding down his life to the bemusement of this daughters, adjusting his wardrobe so that he will die with all his clothes worn out. There is no chance that compromise, as civil as it may be, will solve the deficit. Higher taxes on the “rich” is the one “hard” choice almost everyone can agree on, but it is a band-aid, as Europe proves. The rich, it seems, do not mind being taxed as much as people making 200K. But unless you tax the middle class–as did Clinton–there is no desire to reduce spending. To cut spending the middle class must see the poor as the enemy. Obama has mad the rich the enemy of the middle class–well, the middle class who are doing OK the enemy of the middle class who didn’t quite do as well as they had hoped.

Cutting spending is simply too unpopular, because services that we got along without until 10 years ago are “essential.” Inflation will, in a sense, solve the deficit. Chaney was right: deficits do not matter politically, unless higher interest rates kill off the economy. It seems that the Fed has decided higher rates are not an option.

Few of the boomers will be able to retire and collect the entitlements to which they thought, once, they were entitled. The transfer of wealth has already taken place. Boomers have paid for their parents’ nursing homes and their kids’ tuition–after paying off their own college loans and mortgages. And now they are expected to wind themselves down.

Posted by vincent31 | Report as abusive

Apparently the writer hasn’t read anything about how washington works. Or for that matter how life works. He sets a budget out there that is higher then he will actually settle for, then the republicans set one lower then they will settle for and they work togther to come up with a compromise. Just spewing diatribe and ingnorance wont impress anyone….of course, you may be vying for a spot on fox news where this is commonplace.

Posted by fromthecenter | Report as abusive

Conservatives seem to find inspiration in works of fiction like Noah’s Compass and Atlas Shrugged. It is amusing how they create their own reality as they go along. But since we do live in the world of reality and consequences, let’s delve into the facts.

Although Governor Walker is claiming he is making an attempt to close a budget gap, the budget “crisis” was engineered by Walker as soon as he got into office. Half of the budget shortfall comes from Walker’s own tax cuts for businesses and other business giveaways enacted in January.

Business interests standing with Walker are beneficiaries of his tax giveaways. By far the greatest ally to Walker is Koch Industries. In response to the growing protests in Madison, Koch astroturf front groups are busing in Tea Party protesters to counter-demonstrate against the public employees. Koch Industries has closely guided the Walker agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-financed group, advised Walker and the GOP legislature on its anti-labor legislation and its first round of corporate tax cuts.

American Majority, the Virginia-based astroturf group founded by by millionaire investor Howie Rich, is on the ground contacting Wisconsin Tea Parties to support Walker in Madison. Austin James, the American Majority official who was caught teaching Tea Party members to spam Amazon.com profiles of liberal books with negative comments, is the contact for the Facebook page organizing the pro-Walker protest. Eric O’Keefe, a longtime conservative operative who helps lead American Majority, regularly attends Koch strategy meetings.

The massive amounts of money that Koch and other business interests have brought to bear on the last election DWARFS whatever money working people can contribute to their local unions. They will spend whatever it takes to buy politicians like Scott Walker, who in turn will sell their constituents down the river in return for that support.

Posted by Infiltrator | Report as abusive

A number of commenters have hit the nail on the head. The downward slide of the U.S. began under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, was halted and then reversed under William J. Clinton, who left office with surpluses reaching $200 Billion annually, and then really took a nose dive under George W. Bush, who doubled the federal debt from $5 Trillion to $10 Trillion as he cut taxes for the wealthy while starting not one but two wars of choice. It’s obvious that the first step toward returning to fiscal sanity is allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire. At the same time, the defense department budget could easily be slashed by 50% without in anyway endangering the security of the United States. Finally, a surtax could be placed on millionaires and billionaires so that they do their fair share in restoring to the treasury a huge amount of wealth given them by the Republican Party. This country is in great danger because of past policy mistakes made by conservatives, when they held power. It’s time to fully reverse those policies and go back to what we know works, i.e., a very progressive tax structure to bring in the revenues needed to bring the federal debt under control.

Posted by caliguy55 | Report as abusive

Just another bubble boy.

Posted by tfranzman | Report as abusive

The 1930s to 1970 Glory Days Of US Liberalism….Also the last time middle class wages were rising. Unions are the protectors of the Middle Class. Without Unions we will all be working for minimum wages as 1099 contractors with no benefits. Forget payed holidays, forget paid vacations, forget a pension, forget health care. We will all be indentured servants wondering what happened to the American Dream.

Posted by DunaDad | Report as abusive

I would love to have a job like yours James -writing nonsense and being paid for it.

Obama the “most extreme liberal”? PROVE IT WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, NOT WITH EMPTY BUZZWORD!

I have to remind you that Ronald Reagan was the one that turned the U.S. from the world’s largest CREDITOR into the world’s largest DEBTOR; all done within its leadership. Was he a liberal?

Wtih regards to “obamacare” you claim to know better than the non-partisan CBO. Besides, your intellectual dishonesty is just atrocious; W. Bush never bothered with including the expenditures from TWO WARS into the budget.

David Stockman is intellectually honest; just read it maybe you’ll learn something (I doubt it)
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/opinio n/01stockman.html

Rosy economic projections? Yeah, tell that to the millions that are unemployed. And let’s see what happens once the states adjust their budgets with the “rosy projections”

Posted by ecogabriel1 | Report as abusive

James and my fellow repugnant Americans. Please do America a favor and report on the gramm-leach-bliley act, CFMA and the repeal of the Glass Steagal Act. Tell the American people about the derivative and credit-default mess and how much money has been traded since 2000. Explain that much of the money(67%)was laundered into sub-prime and mortage loans by investment banking firms, with no derivative regulations. Thanks phil gramm. If you are honest with the American people and try to educate them so they(repugs)will understand it is stupid to discuss deficits after they understand how much money was traded. Also, Americans should understand what the republicans have truly done to our country and the world economy. Explain to the millions that have lost their homes and jobs what repugnants have done. Explain the Obama deficit is so small compared to the money traded with derivatives, its probably not worth mentioning by republicans. Perhaps you can help report on the people that created this mess and have these traitors sent to prison. That would be worth reporting? RIGHT!!! Just imagine James, if someone in Egypt had reported 20 years ago all the money Mabarak was stealing from the people. It might have changed history earlier before people had to go to the streets and die. Before you can be critical of Obama, you must inform the American people of the reason we had to bail out the banks and AIG, etc. Reagan started this hugh deficit (cheney said so)and was responsible for the American classrooms problems with his republican budget cuts on education. I guess repugs forget teachers had to start buying books and supplies for the kids out of their own pockets. Reagan also gave us 25-30% usury on credit cards. I thought usury was against the bible? I guess when you worship Cremation of Care at the Bohemian Club, the bible doesn’t matter.

Posted by vietnam2 | Report as abusive

James and my fellow repugnant Americans. Please do America a favor and report on the gramm-leach-bliley act, CFMA and the repeal of the Glass Steagal Act. Tell the American people about the derivative and credit-default mess and how much money has been traded since 2000. Explain that much of the money(67%)was laundered into sub-prime and mortage loans by investment banking firms, with no derivative regulations. Thanks phil gramm. If you are honest with the American people and try to educate them so they(repugs)will understand it is stupid to discuss deficits after they understand how much money was traded. Also, Americans should understand what the republicans have truly done to our country and the world economy. Explain to the millions that have lost their homes and jobs what repugnants have done. Explain the Obama deficit is so small compared to the money traded with derivatives, its probably not worth mentioning by republicans. Perhaps you can help report on the people that created this mess and have these traitors sent to prison. That would be worth reporting? RIGHT!!! Just imagine James, if someone in Egypt had reported 20 years ago all the money Mabarak was stealing from the people. It might have changed history earlier before people had to go to the streets and die. Before you can be critical of Obama, you must inform the American people of the reason we had to bail out the banks and AIG, etc. Reagan started this hugh deficit (cheney said so)and was responsible for the American classrooms problems with his republican budget cuts on education. I guess repugs forget teachers had to start buying books and supplies for the kids out of their own pockets. Reagan also gave us 25-30% usury on credit cards. I thought usury was against the bible? I guess when you worship Cremation of Care at the Bohemian Club, the bible doesn’t matter.

Posted by vietnam2 | Report as abusive

What the hell is a “centrist” anyway? To me it’s a fiction that is used to avoid being branded “liberal” or “conservative” but nonetheless a fabrication for the purposes of serving personal political expedience with no meaning reality to it at all.

But is Mr. Pethokoukis as serious as I’ve heard many others seriously express the same absurd sentiment dubbing President Obama everything from a “socialist” to a “communist” which is as grossly absurd as saying, “the poor and their entitlement programs are breaking this country’s back!” Or is this a persistent idiocy that only means, “The Illusory Reagan Revolution part two, the conclusion?” With a blanket policy of “deregulation” masquerading as “free-market, level field capitalism” with its disastrous Savings and Loan debacle as a consequence which took billions to bail out these institutions no one ever dared to call Reagan a “socialist” for bailing those bastards out. Unthinkable!

Enjoy what you you get “post-Omama”

Posted by Batchain | Report as abusive

There is no “centrist shift” on Obama’s part because he’s ALWAYS been in the center. The fiction that Obama’s ever been anything but a centrist is a creation of his conservative enemies who wish to marginalize him.

Posted by Cal13 | Report as abusive

So … do the numbers speak for themselves? I listened directly to the State of the Union. These comments – whether talking points from others or not – appear to be quite consistent with words directly out of the President’s mouth.

I was quite unimpressed with the “cuts” he recommended, because – as the article underscores – they are not cuts.

Why do folks trivialize the article as a Republican vs. Democrat article? Such trivialization is simply intellectually stupid – irrespective of what Mssrs Reagan and Bush advocated. The FACT is that our budget is not well managed, is laden with initiatives that should not be funded, and requires leadership from the top and in all of Congress – by people who have a much better view of lines in the budget – to take a stand on what is truly needed, and what is not.

For example: did you know there is almost $350M in cuts for Planned Parenthood? I believe that whole group should NOT have government funding. If Planned Parenthood cannot self-fund their expansion, they should not get govt funding. Public broadcasting? Same fate. I’ll bet I could walk through areas of our national budget and cut out billions of wasted funding and be, quite possibly, far more effective than Mr. Obama.

This article represents far more than a trivial political contest. And it points to the head of a leadership team who seems quite willing to, with sleight of hand that is less and less convincing, say one thing and do another.

Readers can judge this article as regurgitation. It may be. But is it wrong when judged by the numbers? No. In fact, it understates the travesty being perpetrated by the current leadership team.

Posted by tomwinans | Report as abusive

Obama is clearly and without doubt a MARXIST. Just review his past and present associations.

COMMUNISM is alive and well in the U.S.A.

Americans need to wake up and see that liberals have bankrupted the country with entitlement programs that are too costly for American taxpayers, rich and poor alike.

It’s time to cut government spending by 50% STARTING AT THE EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.

A TAXPAYER REVOLT IS COMING!

Posted by hhps | Report as abusive

[...] James Pethokoukis at Reuters (“Obama’s centrist shift evaporates”) nails the bigger picture — “This was the week for the president to show that he had really learned the lessons of both the 2010 midterms and the shortfalls of his own economic policies. Instead, it was the American public that learned something. It learned that Obama pretty much is who he is – and he’s probably not going to change.” Comments Off [...]