Recapturing the narrative

Yes, I was worried that Democrats were losing the narrative-arms-race. If the president’s speech is any indication, I was wrong. Sometimes it feels good to be wrong, especially in light of the president’s all-out assault on the Ryan plan. The president provided a clear – realistic – alternative to the Tea Party plan for America, capitalizing nicely on GOP overreach.

More like this, please.

Full text of the president’s speech is here.

Also, Brad DeLong goes over the good and bad elements of the framework. The bad is essentially the surrender of further fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending. Maybe that ball can be picked back up if Democrats retake the House. Maybe it will be too late for stimulus at that point.

Update.

I agree with commenters who point out that what we need is not talk of the deficit at all but rather talk of job growth and stimulus. In that sense, the narrative is still rooted in the GOP’s framework. However, it appears Obama is now calling their bluff. Can a reversal of momentum steer the conversation back to job creation? Stimulus spending? I’m not sure. But sometimes you work with what you’ve got.






70 replies
  1. 1
    celticdragonchick says:

    The lizards at LGF are nearly ecstatic over the speech. Charles is delighted at how the right wing blogs are shrieking “like wounded banshees”.

    BTW, Charles at LGF linked to John’s post yesterday about birtherism and racism.

  2. 2
    Steve says:

    No problem. Lindsey Graham has taken up the mantle of infrastructure spending for us.

  3. 3
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Why is everyone still so surprised when President Obama gets it right? I supported him because I believed that he would most likely get it right. He keeps reinforcing that belief, yet all these people are surprised, every time. More people than just that histrionic Tory, formerly of the Atlantic website, who I expect to be that silly.

    I’m beginning to be confused as to why they are always surprised; I’d have expected them to have caught on by now.

  4. 4
    Jay says:

    Realistically there’s nothing Obama could say or do to get more infrastructure and stimulus through this congress. But if he can get a moderate comprehensive deficit plan done before the election that is a huge win for progressives. It means he can expend political capital in his second term on more important things like immigration reform and a comprehensive energy plan. That’s where we can get extra stimulus and infrastructure spending.

  5. 5
    Maude says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):
    I am so glad you’re here.
    Thank you so very much for saying that violence isn’t funny.

    I do think a lot of whiners have no idea what is in the Medicare or other programs that they gripe about Obama will cut. Except he won’t be cutting them. Except the memebers of the PL are prolly up in arms about, well, something by now.
    I say those in the PL are a bunch of arrogant know it alls. Means they are pretentious and truly ignorant.

  6. 6
    chopper says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    because the internet is full of emo WATBs with no patience and a demand for instant gratification.

  7. 7
    pragmatism says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): as a fantasy novel author once opined in a book about trains and quasi-rape porn, contradictions don’t exist. whenever you think you are facing one, check your premises. you will find that one of them is wrong.

  8. 8
    dr. bloor says:

    The bad is essentially the surrender of further fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending.

    I was generally pleased with the speech, and, while not meaning to be a turd in the punchbowl, that blocked quote ain’t chopped liver. The economy is at risk of taking another nosedive without greater stimulus, and if it does, it will be “Obama’s plan” that will be blamed–no matter that his plan is better than the Scorched Earth proposal put forth by Pretty Boy Ryan.

  9. 9
    Pancake says:

    This post reads like “Andrew Sullivan – Lite.”

  10. 10
    rikryah says:

    it was an excellent speech..

    but, what does Sully say?

    BWA HA HA AH AH AHA

  11. 11
    E.D. Kain says:

    @dr. bloor: that’s a real risk for sure.

  12. 12
    kdaug says:

    @Jay:

    Realistically there’s nothing Obama could say or do to get more infrastructure and stimulus through this congress.

    But he does have this pen thing, can’t remember what it’s called, think it starts with a “V”.

    He can, and I think is itching to, shut down egregious exigencies on the part of our deep-thinkers in the House.

    Let them prattle on in front of the TV cameras. Let them lay the debate out. Let them show us proles how far they’re willing to go to keep tax cuts for the rich.

    “Just keep digging, my tea-infused friends. Because, at the end, I’ll just say no.”

  13. 13
    TooManyJens says:

    Yes, I was worried that Democrats were losing the narrative-arms-race. If the president’s speech is any indication, I was wrong.

    Thanks. I wish more people could say that.

  14. 14

    How has the narrative been recaptured? It went from “we need to reduce the deficit by cutting programs people need” to “we need to reduce the deficit by cutting programs people need”.

    The bad is essentially the surrender of further fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending.

    Other than that, how was the show Mrs. Lincoln?

  15. 15
    Joe Beese says:

    … by saying Ryan’s plan leaves people over 65 to the mercy of the insurance industry, the President is basically admitting that his new health care law was designed with the intention of leaving those under 65 to mercy of the private insurance industry. Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into an income-based, sliding-scale voucher that seniors use to buy only private insurance on a loosely regulated exchange is nearly identical to the Obama Affordable Care Act’s basic design that gives the uninsured under 65 income-based, sliding-scale vouchers to buy only private insurance on loosely regulated exchanges. Under both plans, the size of these vouchers is designed to grow slower than the cost of insurance, resulting in shrinking benefits. How Obama was able to sell this basic design–which he admits leaves people to the “mercy of the insurance industry”–as some great progressive victory is beyond me.

    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.c.....-industry/

  16. 16
    kindness says:

    Two days in a row John Cole’s quotes have been front paged on teh GOS.

    John, your conservative friends will start thinking you are hanging with Markos & Jane (fdl Jane I mean).

  17. 17
    Sentient Puddle says:

    I agree, and don’t really have anything substantive to add.

    But because I think we could all stand to smile a little more, here’s that video of a cat playing with dolphins.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    While I enjoy rightards screaming like banshees all the time, that’s pretty much the inverse of the “piss off the DFHs” meme that seems to be a hallmark of the right.

    We need to forget about the fucking deficit and pour money into infrastructure repair, upgrade, and expansion that will do two very important things:

    1. Put people back to work right now

    2. Lay a foundation for future prosperity

  19. 19
    TooManyJens says:

    @Master of Karate and Friendship:

    It went from “we need to reduce the deficit by cutting programs people need” to “we need to reduce the deficit by cutting programs people need”.

    Actually, it went from “we need to save the government money by shoving the rising cost of health care onto individuals” to “we have an obligation to provide a safety net, and we need to cut costs by getting more for our health-care dollar.”

    Makes a difference.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Until you take on the cancerous tumors that feed off the health care system, by either cutting them off completely, or shrinking them to the point of oblivion with chemo, you’re not going to solve the basic issue of the failing American health care system.

  22. 22
    BGinCHI says:

    Apologies if this has been linked already, but here’s a side by side comparison of the Obama and Ryan plans. Really useful for summarizing what’s on the table.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....plans.html

    Now, let’s see if anyone calls Obama “serious.”

  23. 23

    Yes, I was worried that Democrats were losing the narrative-arms-race. If the president’s speech is any indication, I was wrong.

    Oh, and how could I forget: you mean there’s something to this “bully pulpit” thing?

  24. 24
    Beta Magellan says:

    @Joe Beese:

    You quote this is jest, right?

  25. 25
    MattR says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): I think after years of Lucy pulling the football away, many Democrats/liberals/progressives are gunshy. Even though Obama has let them kick a couple field goals, it is hard to get past the instinct that he is gonna pull it away next time.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Now, let’s see if anyone calls Obama “serious.”

    Since Obama is not immersed in Randroid fantasy, of course he can’t be considered “serious” by the vermin of the Village.

  27. 27
    SIA says:

    Digby

    I like it when Obama speaks about values and frames these arguments in moral terms and I think he did it well today. The concept of “balance” in today’s Washington sends chills down my spine, but again, my opinion on this irrelevant. The vast majority of Democrats trust the president to look after their interests and Independents like the idea of bipartisan solutions regardless of the details, so this makes sense for him. But the themes he struck about the commitment to seniors and the less fortunate are important themes for the president to reiterate, for the good of our society as a whole.

  28. 28

    @TooManyJens:

    It’s nice that he uttered the words “we have to provide a safety net” but unfortunately his actions are cutting jobs programs, WIC, and subsidies for poor people.

  29. 29
    Joe Beese says:

    @Beta Magellan:

    You quote this is jest, right?

    No, the Ryan plan for seniors sucks in essentially the identical way that Obamacare sucks for everyone else.

    But of course a Republican proposed one and Obama proposed the other, so I can see why you view them differently.

  30. 30
    Maude says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    How are you going to get the House Republicans to cough up the money for that?
    The debt is serious as if can cause problems for the US. We don’t own the debt. Any instability like the US debt going out of control would cause trouble for us. The deficit rising can cause doubt about the solvency of the US.
    Bush really damaged this country and he had a lot of help from Congress.
    Look at OH and NJ. Federal money was turned down for transportation.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Maude:

    Sorry, but all this hand wringing over “the debt” is bullshit, and we know it’s bullshit because the previous malassministration assured us that deficits don’t matter, and the debt doesn’t matter.

    If they DID matter, the revenue side would be addressed, instead of under the Ryan plan, being made even worse.

    No, this is about killing the very concept of the United States of America, and replacing it with a neo-feudalist hellhole.

  32. 32
    Bob L says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: You have far to much faith in the Serious People. The Ryan plan is the faeries died during Bush because Washington didn’t clap load enough. Logically it would turn the US into a third world country, but the people calling for it aren’t about logic. They’re about protecting an ideology at all costs.

  33. 33
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Joe Beese: Your plan sucks too. Under it, we all eventually die.

  34. 34
    Linnaeus says:

    Not to be a killjoy, but are we really having three active threads in which the same argument is happening simultaneously?

  35. 35
    eemom says:

    @Joe Beese:

    that’s complete and utter bullshit, because seniors use vastly more health care than “everyone else.” They’re the high end of the risk, which makes it prohibitively expensive for them to purchase private insurance even with government subsidies.

  36. 36
    Martin says:

    @Joe Beese:

    No, the Ryan plan for seniors sucks in essentially the identical way that Obamacare sucks for everyone else.

    Yes, because Obama’s plan improves on the current situation while Ryan’s makes the current situation worse, they’re exactly the same.

    Remember, if you can’t get Utah’s per-pupil funding as high as New York’s, don’t even bother trying.

  37. 37
    Chyron HR says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Dear Joe,

    “Mandingocare” (or whatever Republican meme you’re oh-so-progressively parroting today) was meant to be an improvement over the system that was already in place. Since this system was nothing, it arguably achieved that goal, although you are certainly welcome to disagree.

    If we had single-payer healthcare for everyone in America and replaced it with “House Ni**ercare” (tm Firedoglake), then it would clearly not have been an improvement, just as replacing Medicare with a private-insurance-plus-voucher system would not be an improvement. But we did not have single-payer healthcare in the first place, so your agument is complete nonsense.

  38. 38
    Maude says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Obama spoke about the revenue side. The tax structure, the ending of the Bush tax cuts and the military spending that is over the top.
    The Republicans are full of it. They would have people like me in a cardboard box without a bridge to go under.

  39. 39
    Beta Magellan says:

    @Joe Beese:

    If you think the ACA=Ryan’s fantasy, you need to get yourself over to Jonathan Cohn’s place.

  40. 40
    A L says:

    @TooManyJens: Hi, Paul Ryan talks about a “safety net” too. What is it they say about talk? Being inexpensive? Something to that effect.

    @Martin: If Obama’s not going to introduce a public option or anything of the sort then how do you propose he is going to rein in healthcare costs?

    In other words, have you ever heard of the phrase “Belling the cat”?

  41. 41
    kdaug says:

    @Sentient Puddle: In the long run…

  42. 42
    Joe Beese says:

    @Chyron HR:

    Mandingocare

    You guys simply can’t resist the race card, can you.

    It smacks of desperation.

  43. 43
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Maude:

    We don’t own the debt.

    That’s absolutely false. Just saying. The majority of debt is privately held right here in the US. Not foreignly.

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Maude:

    You misunderstood me. I was talking about the total horsehockey that is the Ryan plan, which does nothing to address the revenue side.

    Well, I take that back. Magic ponies will somehow shit gold into the treasury if we only give the parasitical rich another tax cut.

  45. 45
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Linnaeus: Oh, I know that answer! Yes. Surely you aren’t surprised?

  46. 46
    Jay C says:

    Yes, I was worried that Democrats were losing the narrative-arms-race. If the president’s speech is any indication, I was wrong.

    Except that the problem isn’t what you, or I, or the Balloon Juice commentariat think, or say, about President Obama’s plan vs. Banana-Republican jive-o-nomics: it’s how the “debate” will be framed by our disgracefully dysfunctional “MSM” – and the odds that THAT “debate” will be anything like a reasoned, rational reality-based discussion are probably too high to calculate.

  47. 47
    Walker says:

    After comment 42 I am convinced that Joe Beese is a spoof.

  48. 48
    Maude says:

    @Bob Loblaw:
    Enough is foreign owned to cause trouble if they lose faith.
    Also, thanks for the reply. The guys here who have bought debt here, US guys, they can also go elsewhere.
    Good point.

  49. 49
    Maude says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Ryan is all for making people suffer.
    I want to see how the vote goes Friday.
    People like him do scare me.

  50. 50
    les says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Except, of course, Ryan wants to take away something seniors have and need; and ACA gives non-seniors something they don’t have and need. Unlike some of the others, Joe, it’s hard to tell with you if it’s lack of understanding or intent that underlies the stupid; or perhaps, whether it’s Teh Stupid, or intentional dishonesty. The lack of consistency in your bad arguments makes it harder to figure.

  51. 51

    Yes, I was worried that Democrats were losing the narrative-arms-race.

    Hey, if I’d thought that Obama’s little statement after the FY2011 budget deal was announced was a sign of what’s to come, I’d have been worried, too.

  52. 52

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    We need to forget about the fucking deficit and pour money into infrastructure repair, upgrade, and expansion

    Actually, we need to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    We need to tackle the long-term deficit, and also the short-term shortage of aggregate demand. In fact, we need to make the case that doing the former is necessary for accomplishing the latter.

    Simply waving away the existence of the long-term deficit problem is a one-way ticket to irrelevance. It really is a problem, and the political situation demands that it be addressed.

  53. 53

    @Master of Karate and Friendship:

    It went from “we need to reduce the deficit by cutting programs people need” to “we need to reduce the deficit by cutting programs people need”.

    Is there any particular reasons why you’re adopting the Tea Party’s line on future efforts to bend the curve on Medicare?

  54. 54
    Rekster says:

    Heard this on Sirius Left today: “I want Samuel L. Jackson, not Urkel!” This speech was some of Sam Jackson, the only thing is do we judge the President by his words or his actions?

  55. 55

    @eemom:

    that’s complete and utter bullshit, because seniors use vastly more health care than “everyone else.”

    It’s even more bullshit because everyone else* is already at the mercy of the private insurance market, while seniors are not.

    Joe Beese can’t tell the difference between throwing a drowning man a life preserver (ACA) and throwing someone on dry land into the water with a life preserver (voucherization of Medicare).

    *Well, not everyone. There are millions of Americans on some other kind of government health care – and there will be millions more moved onto it under the ACA.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    The thing is, Clinton had this problem SOLVED in 2000.

    Then that deserting coward fucked it all up.

  57. 57
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Jay C:

    Except that the problem isn’t what you, or I, or the Balloon Juice commentariat think, or say, about President Obama’s plan vs. Banana-Republican jive-o-nomics: it’s how the “debate” will be framed by our disgracefully dysfunctional “MSM” – and the odds that THAT “debate” will be anything like a reasoned, rational reality-based discussion are probably too high to calculate.

    You mean obsessing about whether Joe Biden fell asleep during the speech is dysfunctional? Who knew?
    Certainly easier. Not only don’t they have to read the speech, they don’t even have to listen to it on tape. Analysis so easy, a caveman pre-schooler can do it.

  58. 58
    pluege says:

    E.D. Cain: if you don’t know Einstein’s definition of insanity you really need to look it up. This is the same thing obama has been pulling for 4 years now: give a fluffy speech that progressives want to hear (even though this one is center-right and just appears progressive against the cacophonous of batsh*t insane republican shrieking we’ve heard non-stop for 2 years), but then enact either the opposite or something so far off of his words it bears no resemblance. The list is staggering:

    Patriot Act
    Closing Guantanamo
    States Secrets
    Support for Unions
    Support for Constitutional Womens’ rights
    Killing the public Option
    bush tax cuts for the rich
    no torture and rendition
    and on and on

    All things obama gave nice sounding flowery speeches only to do the opposite.

    And if you can’t understand what Einstein said about insanity, perhaps you could figure out what P. T. Barnum meant was born every minute.

  59. 59

    @Villago Delenda Est: Amen. Sure, we likely would have had a financial meltdown and gone into debt to deal with the aftermath, but we would have gone into it with a national debt in the $0.5-$2trillion range.

  60. 60
    Marc says:

    @pluege:

    Odd. I’d think that insanity is just hearing a speech and then writing a post claiming that it said the opposite of what it actually said. You wrote your screed before he uttered a word, and you’d repeat it no matter what he did or said.

    There must be some medical description of that illness…

  61. 61
    geg6 says:

    @Marc:

    Much as I’m happy John is getting a lot of exposure with GOS linking here a LOT lately, I wish they would quit it. All these trolls come running over here screaming about how Obama wants to kill us all are too tiresome for words. Not a firing neuron in the bunch.

  62. 62
    OzoneR says:

    Did anyone notice how all three networks decided to lead their evening newscasts with a sleeping air traffic controller story after pissing and moaning the President was “not serious” about the deficit.

    Remember that next time you want to scream “bully pulpit”

  63. 63
    Bill Murray says:

    @joe from Lowell: but unless the deals struck today over the long term debt are binding on future congresses, you can’t truly fix the long term debt problem (also you can’t even be certain those problems will show up as they depend greatly on what happens in the interim), which makes fixing the short term problems of much greater priority, and trading the fixes for short term problems to “fix” long term problems quite problematic.

  64. 64
    HyperIon says:

    @Linnaeus:

    Not to be a killjoy, but are we really having three active threads in which the same argument is happening simultaneously?

    Plus this post consists entirely of a comment made in one of the other threads. So in theory the thing is self-sustaining.

    Q. which of the first 63 comments is worthy of being the next front page post?

  65. 65
  66. 66
    DPirate says:

    Yay. A speech. Whoopdedoo.

  67. 67
    Social outcast says:

    Obama will give one speech on this stuff and we’ll never hear him mention it again. He has no appetite for political communication that involve repetition and 2-3 simple concepts. So good luck with that whole changing the narrative thing, because the republicans will be back with the same old shit tomorrow. And they’ll keep it up day after day until it becomes political reality.

  68. 68
    Seanly says:

    Great – give up on infrastructure spending. Now I’ll never get a new job in my chosen field. Sigh.

    Enjoy your crappy roads, falling bridges and exploding sewers, America. Yeah!

  69. 69
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Can a reversal of momentum steer the conversation back to job creation?

    I think you should propose the EDK Freemarket Fantasy Forest Jobs-Creating Agenda. How do you sound any different from the teabagger caucus that tacks jobcreating or jobkilling on every policy? I bet there is a “market-based” solution in there somewhere.

  70. 70
    Billy Bob Tweed says:

    More pretty words from Barack, and the lib-bloggo-Pavlov-punditocracy gets another hard-on.

    What’s needed are less pretty words, real actions, and maybe start fulfilling some of those election promises instead of expanding Bush-Cheney policies and an all-out assault on whistleblowers.

    And ferfucksakes, where are the goddamn jobs?

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