A Pivot Plop?

Obama is trying to pivot from health care to jobs and the deficit. The best view of that with respect to health care is that he’s trying to boost his ratings (which would help) and give Democrats some cover as they scramble to put their agenda back together. (Now if they had not blown it up themselves last week I might have some sympathy). The worst view is that he’s walking away from health care.

Independent of that, the pivot is just not looking good. When Ezra Klein says the Democratic President is failing to communicate I think it is safe to say he [the President] has got a problem.

[I]t’s also the administration’s white flag on the argument that the deficit must be understood as a health-care reform problem rather than a taxes and spending problem. This was their most audacious effort to change the way Americans think, and it didn’t work. For all the effort Democrats put into building a health-care bill that cuts the deficit, a full 60 percent of Americans think (pdf) the legislation increases the deficit. Only 15 percent think it’s a deficit reducer….

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Now, I don’t care that much about who wins or loses in politics so long as we get policies I think make sense. So, if Obama wants to blow up his presidency with a bunch of hooey, that’s not my big concern in and of itself. But I know that political capital matters. The weaker the President gets the less likely it is we’ll get anything good out of him, including on health care.

Tomorrow’s State of the Union address is his big chance to save his pivot or pivot back to what he pivoted from and save that. Either way, he may just look like he’s running in circles.

Later: From DeLong, “If it really is as small a deal as it now looks, it is not a budgetary and economic disaster–it is a rhetorical, political, and messaging disaster.” Ouch.

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