Krugman thinks Obama won this first round of budget talks by essentially calling Ryan’s bluff.
The president’s proposal isn’t perfect, by a long shot. My own view is that while the spending controls on Medicare he proposed are exactly the right way to go, he’s probably expecting too much payoff in the near term. And over the longer run, I believe that we’ll need modestly higher taxes on the middle class as well as the rich to pay for the kind of society we want. But the vision was right, and the numbers were far more credible than anything in the Ryan sales pitch.
What happened over the past two weeks, then, was more about staking out positions than about enacting policies. On one side you had a combination of mean-spiritedness and fantasy; on the other you had a reaffirmation of American compassion and community, coupled with fairly realistic numbers. Which would you choose?
There will be more talks, and dramatic up or down votes next year. Krugman, who like many liberal writers never seem satisfied with anything, I do think is on the money. Obama’s ideas are more mainstream and Ryan’s ideas will be yelled about, but never really acted on.