New York Times White House reporter Jackie Calmes habitually makes excuses for President Obama while praising his big-spending budgets as serious proposals, defending his "stimulus" as successful, and insisting against all history that Obama-care will actually save federal money. She gave out some more in the latest edition of the PBS talk show Washington Week, which aired last week on PBS, talking of Obama's "investments" (i.e., spending) and agreeing with the administration that its broken promise on reducing the deficit really isn't its fault.
Jackie Calmes: Well, I’ll segue strait from Susan, who said that this, when Congressman Ryan puts out the House Republican budget, it will set up a contrast. And that’s exactly what the White House wants because they think they have the better of that argument, you look at any poll, that the contrast is, they are, for all the emphasis and all the talk about deficit reduction for another year, the second year in a row, they have emphasized more of the investments they’re making in the country, while also bringing down deficits over the next 10 years, they would say, by $4 trillion. The Republicans, of course, contest that estimate.
But they’re really emphasizing the things, the president made his announcement at a Virginia community college, happened to be a young audience. Those are the voters they really target, a community college, which is a winner in his budget amid all the losers that have to be cut back, and it’s in a swing state, Virginia. So this is a political document. It also could be looked at as an agenda for a second term. Clearly, this budget you see with the economy starting to improve, he’s moving away, this administration, finally, in the fourth year, feels it can emphasize less the short-term stimulus and more, especially now that they’ve gotten the passage of the payroll tax cut bill with the unemployment compensation in it, and they can move into the long-term investments.
If I could just give one example there’s, you know, the president likes to talk a lot about how we need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan in order to do some nation building at home, so he proposed a six-year $476-billion transportation program. And so those sorts of things are where he’s putting his emphasis.
Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: But at every single event that I went to with Mitt Romney this week, the first thing out of his mouth was, remember when the president promised that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? He’s going to get hit with that over and over again. Have they decided that people don’t care about deficit reduction as much anymore?
Calmes: Well, they certainly hope so because there’s nothing they can do about it at this stage. You know, it’s probably the president made that promise in like February of 2009, just after taking office, and what they, what the administration will say, which has the benefit of some truth behind it, is that no one knew then exactly how severe the recession was. So we’ve had not only the stimulus bill they passed that year to cover two years, there’s been, we’re continuing, as this discussion on payroll tax reflects.
So they’re thinking, they always said it would be as a percentage of GDP. He inherited a deficit that was about 9 percent compared to the size of the economy. The budget he proposes for, well, he will leave, the budget year that ends on October 1st or on September 30th, so right before the election, will have a deficit-to-GDP ratio, percentage of 8.5 percent. So that’s hardly cutting in half. And, but next year, he’s proposing 5.5 would be the, percent would be the deficit, but you know. So even a year from now, it won’t be cut in half from what he inherited, but they’re thinking the public thinks that he was dealt a bad hand.