ABCNews.com doesn’t know how to use quote marks for this headline: “Obama: More Moderate Republican Than Socialist.” Obama told a Miami interviewer that "The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican."
Lloyd Bentsen impressions are mandatory: I knew moderate Republicans in the Eighties. Moderate Republicans in the Eighties were friends of mine. Obama is no moderate Republican from the Eighties. But Jordan Fabian of ABCNews.com aggressively pushed links that Obama has agreement on the left:
Some on the left have long argued that the president's policy beliefs closely resemble moderate Republican views from the 1980s and 1990s. Ezra Klein made the argument in a 2011 column, citing his adoption of the individual health insurance mandate, an idea developed in conservative think tanks. Will Saletan of Slate made a similar argument this year.
Moderate Republicans in the 1980s were NOT casually installing policies that guaranteed trillion-plus annual deficits as far as the eye can see. Even liberal Democrats in the 1980s look like conservatives next to Obama. (That's not to say they wouldn't have wanted to spend more, but the budget baseline hadn't gone that wild yet. )
ABC offered no rebuttal from amazed Republicans. They offered an unrelated fiscal-cliff quote from Boehner, and just summed up the argument from the right:
For years amid the brooder debate over taxes and the size of government, Obama has been characterized by some on the right as a socialist who wants to redistribute wealth. They cite Obama's healthcare law in particular as a massive increase in the size of government.
Obama is seeking to eradicate that image as he tries to sell his economic plan to the public amid the fiscal cliff debate, which includes eliminating the low Bush-era tax rates for those families making more than $250,000 per year.
The Hill.com has the whole transcript. The "socialist" exchange goes like this:
UNIVISION 23: One issue that Cuban-Americans are worried about is, they believe that you favor a socialist model for our country. Cubans and Venezuelans especially because of what they have gone through. What do you think of that?
OBAMA: I don't know that there are a lot of Cubans or Venezuelans, Americans who believe that. The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.
I mean, what I believe in is a tax system that is fair. I don't think government can solve every problem. I think that we should make sure that we're helping young people go to school. We should make sure that our government is building good roads and bridges and hospitals and airports so that we have a good infrastructure. I do believe that it makes sense that everyone in America, as rich as this country is, shouldn't go bankrupt because someone gets sick, so the things I believe in are essentially the same things your viewers believe in.
Mr. President: you just defeated a man who was a moderate Republican in the 1980s. You can't now pretend you agree with him on everything.