Still More Deficit Reduction and “Department of Competitiveness”?!?!?

Calculated Risk says most of what needs to be said about this article describing the debate within the White House over whether or not to “pivot to jobs” after all.

Tax incentives are the “bigger idea“? It sounds like the debate is between doing nothing and doing very little.

But it’s worth looking at two parts of this argument that appear to be new.

The article reports the Administration is considering proposing great economic policies that it would deliver in a second term. And those ideas? More neoliberal policies that won’t actually create jobs.

The issue is being framed by the 2012 election. Administration officials, frustrated by the intransigence of House Republicans, have increasingly concluded that the best thing Mr. Obama can do for the economy may be winning a second term, with a mandate to advance his ideas on deficit reduction, entitlement changes, housing policy and other issues.

So the side currently winning this debate is not only arguing against a pivot to jobs right now, but arguing it should continue its obsessive focus on the deficit and “entitlement” cuts through a second term.

And housing policy?!?!? This Administration wants to run on a promise to implement more housing policy, an area in which it has thus far achieved unmitigated failure?

But way at the end of the article, there is what I believe is a completely new policy, one which betrays just how misguided this Administration’s economic policy has become. The new big idea? Renaming the Department of Commerce.

The administration may also merge the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and some economic divisions at the State Department into a new agency, administration officials said. Possible names include the Department of Jobs or the Department of Competitiveness.

As bad as the suggestion that simply rearranging the Titanic’s deck chairs might be a great new idea is, the underlying implications of this proposed policy change are worse. Someone on Obama’s team thinks that by merging the entity that negotiates deals to send our jobs overseas with the Department of Commerce and those parts of the State Department that serve the interests of Monsanto rather than the American people, you’ll end up with more Jobs or better Competitiveness.

Atrios is right. We’re doomed.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

12 replies
  1. rosalind says:

    Ah hell, let’s just fold everything into the “Department of Keeping America Safe, Inc sponsored by Xe” and call it a day.

    And a Country.

  2. Jim White says:

    Department of Jobs will have undersecretaries:

    Division of Blow Jobs
    Division of Hand Jobs
    Division of Snow Jobs

    Marcy for Undersecretary of Blow Jobs!

  3. prostratedragon says:

    And much of the country continues its drownproofing exercises for the 14 or so months until this putative second term begins? As if the First Person were not serving his first term right now?

  4. agincour says:

    As crazy as it seems to be, I can now conceive of a Bachmann or a Perry mugging our oh-so-timid Obama in 2012.

  5. Cujo359 says:

    So the side currently winning this debate is not only arguing against a pivot to jobs right now, but arguing it should continue its obsessive focus on the deficit and “entitlement” cuts through a second term.

    Yes, and the most important thing is that they’re saying it’s really, really important that their boss has a second term. Because that’s what’s going to make things great.

  6. P J Evans says:

    @Cujo359:
    he’d have a lot better chance of getting a second term if he hadn’t spent most of his first term (so far) trying to get the two-year-olds in Congress to compromise and not have temper tantrums when they don’t get their way on everything. (And then giving them what they want anyway.)

    Can we have a Highball Party? (If they won’t lead, won’t follow, and won’t get off the tracks, drive the train over them. Highball!)

  7. person1597 says:

    Been looking for an opportunity to drop in a little “coming down” music.

    Hey, it’s “church” music. Or at least music recorded in a church.

    From the Beaver & Krause album Gandharva (197) “Short Film for David”.

    Plus, this…which may have been discussed already, but here goes…
    California Democratic Party May Dump Its Progressive Caucus for Proposing a Primary Challenge to Obama

    WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the challenge presented by President Obama’s negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans, we are challenged by President Obama in the following ways:

  8. thatvisionthing says:

    You made me laugh!

    As bad as the suggestion that simply rearranging the Titanic’s deck chairs might be a great new idea… It’s like renaming the Titanic’s deckchairs, “Competitiveness footladders.”

    Jane made me laugh!

    You know at some point people might get wise to the fact that Obama is the most powerful political figure in the world, and he does have options beyond being a corporate tool who lets his campaign manager rearrange the national lawn furniture.

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