After three presidential press conferences in two weeks, I have a few questions of my own for President Obama:
1)You said today that we are dealing with two problems: the debt ceiling, which is "a problem manufactured in Washington" for political grandstanding, and the structural deficit, which is difficult but solvable. Why then have you yourself embraced negotiations under the debt ceiling deadline as "a unique opportunity to do something big"?
2) You said today that cutting $2.4 trillion in spending without adding new revenue, as Republicans have proposed, would, to paraphrase, "effectively gut a whole bunch of domestic spending." Why would making the same cuts while adding a few hundred billion in new tax revenue not "effectively gut" the programs in question?
3) You describe the cuts you were negotiating with Boehner as modest, a bit of nip-and-tuck without fundamental restructuring. Most progressives consider $3 trillion in cut spending over 10 years deeply damaging -- to Medicaid, and to already over-targeted discretionary domestic spending. Can you explain the discrepancy?
4) Your latest mantra is that we have to get spending under control before we can talk about essential new investment -- both short-term job creating measures and long-term investments in, say, education and infrastructure. This boils down to "cut and spend." That's not on its face a contradiction -- it may make sense to cut some spending and replace it with other spending -- but it does make a person want to know the tradeoffs, at least in outline. Is the big picture that we reduce entitlements for seniors in favor of new spending in infrastructure, job training, education? But aren't some of those cuts in education?
5) Why are a plethora of so-called "mini-deals" or "plan b's" that cut trillions in spending without adding new revenue still on the table?