Defenders of Obama's spending freeze are few and far between, as ably chronicled by Salon's Gabriel Winant. But to truly understand the depths to which this flailing administration is sinking, a close listen to some of the voices who have traditionally been more likely to support Obama's economic policies than oppose them is instructive.
Brad DeLong: "Barack Herbert Hoover Obama":
As one deficit-hawk journalist of my acquaintance says this evening, this is a perfect example of fundamental unseriousness: rather than make proposals that will actually tackle the long-term deficit -- either through future tax increases triggered by excessive deficits or through future entitlement spending caps triggered by excessive deficits -- come up with a proposal that does short-term harm to the economy without tackling the deficit in any serious and significant way.
(And for an extra dash of humiliation, DeLong suggests the freeze is nothing more than "Dingbat Kabuki.")
Ryan Avent at Free Exchange: "President Obama Concedes Defeat":
This is a complete betrayal of the political ideal Mr. Obama seemed to espouse from the beginning of his political career -- the rejection of the argument by the lowest common denominator in favor of a more reasoned and argued approach. This is yet another move toward the infantilization of the electorate; whatever the gamesmanship behind the proposal, Mr. Obama has apparently concluded that the electorate can't be expected to handle anything like a real description of the tough decisions which must be made.
This is pretty disappointing... How will this look, for example, if there's a double dip recession, or if unemployment follows the dismal path that the administration itself has forecast?
And if you weren't already predisposed to find a silver lining?
It's appalling on every level's a betrayal of everything Obama's supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view -- and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008.