One of the numerous inexplicable phenomena of American politics is the unkillable (think ailanthus) movement among the punditocracy and free range political consultants for a "non-partisan" "radical centrist" "third way" "no labels" Platonic wonkocracy which would forever transcend and doom to futile shouting in dark corners the believing rabble who pollute our discourse with commitment and ideals.
What's particularly odd is that they don't seem to have noticed that the president of the United States is already their messiah. Barack Obama's mission in life is to be David Broder's wet dream. The Republicans, obviously, know this, so they squeeze him for every last drop, which he is all too happy to surrender.
Update: I swear I came across this after I had written this post.
Only now, as the phony controversy appears to be resolved with a typical Obama compromise of utter, abject capitulation, do the corporate media feel they have license to tell the truth about the situation. Yep, only now does the Associated Press get around to explaining a little bit about what cuts in domestic discretionary spending actually mean, focusing on federal payments to states and cities. You know, all that socialistic "Head Start school readiness program, Meals on Wheels and worker training initiatives to funding for transit agencies and education grants that serve disabled children." In the Great Recession the states are already struggling horrifically, and now:
"We have the potential for disaster should there be a major realignment in federal funding that results in a cost shift to states," said Nevada state Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Democrat from Reno who recently discussed the issue with Obama administration officials in Washington. "In short, we are teetering on the edge right now, and a cost shift could send us over the cliff." . . .
Among the programs that could be affected is a service that delivers meals to the home-bound elderly. Connecticut received about $4.5 million from the federal government for the program this year and $1.8 million from the state. Marie Allen, executive director of the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging, said the program is a staple for many senior citizens on tight budgets. The federal aid ultimately saves taxpayers money because it helps keep people out of costly nursing homes, she said.
"If we don't have the support for them in the community, people end up in nursing facilities because they don't have proper nutrition," Allen said. "These are the real reasons why we spend more money on skilled nursing care."
Oh, so that's what this has been all about? They could have mentioned it a couple of months ago. The New York Times could have mentioned this as well. (Okay, Paul Krugman did on the op-ed page, thereby revealing himself to be shrill and non-serious, but I'm talking about you know, a news story):
Last week brought the disconcerting news that the economy grew no faster than the population during the first six months of the year, in part because of spending cuts by state and local governments. Now the federal government is cutting, too.
“Unemployment will be higher than it would have been otherwise,” Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of the bond investment firm Pimco, said Sunday on ABC. “Growth will be lower than it would be otherwise. And inequality will be worse than it would be otherwise.” He added, “We have a very weak economy, so withdrawing more spending at this stage will make it even weaker.”
Thanks a lot Mr. President. You're a real statesman.