Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Texas Progressive Alliance rejects Obama's spending freeze

*Note: I missed the deadline to include my statement in this release, so my thoughts appear at the end of this post.

Top progressive bloggers from across Texas issued a statement today in response to President Obama's State of the Union address cautioning the President to avoid implementing a federal spending freeze.  While these bloggers maintain their support of their President and their Democratic candidates, they reject the notion that a spending freeze is a valid solution for working Americans in this time of economic crisis.

"A spending freeze is foolish," said Trey McAtee, an Austin-based blogger who writes under the pseudonym of  'McBlogger.'  "It is not in line with the ideals of President Obama's supporters, and as progressive bloggers we're here to make sure he knows that."

These members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, a coalition of progressive Texas bloggers formed in 2007, call on President Obama to reconsider his plans for a spending freeze and instead focus on restoring the confidence that businesses have in the future.

The following individual statements were issued:

"The economy is still in a precarious and fragile state, even today.  The deficit hawks in Congress have decided to willfully ignore reality and opted instead to play politics on the issue of the deficit.  They're making demands that, if the President accedes, will lead to a long lasting economic malaise."

-- Trey McAtee of McBlogger (

"The spending freeze will likely affect those who need it the most during this difficult time in our economy.  Throughout his campaign, Obama criticized his opponent's calls for a spending freeze, calling it a 'hatchet when we need a scalpel.'  The only difference progressives see now between Obama and McCain's platform is that Sarah Palin isn't standing next to him."

-- Rachel Farris of MeanRachel (

"During his candidacy, President Obama promised to overhaul immigration early in his first term. However, many immigrant rights advocates fear Obama's spending freeze will put a halt to any type of immigration reform. Any further delay to fix the broken immigration system and this nation will continue to see the devastation of thousands of families and neighborhoods."

-- Edmundo Rocha of Para Justicia y Libertad (

"The spending freeze is both bad policy and bad politics. The last thing we need to hear about right now are ideas for what the government won't do to get us out of the economic crisis that has crippled many American families. What we need instead is bold leadership, not efforts to satisfy the whims of obstructionist Republicans and cowardly Blue Dog Democrats."

-- "Xanthippas" of Three Wise Men (

"A spending freeze is a passing gimmick that does not address the long-term problems facing the American people. Instead of offering up a stunt, President Obama needs to discuss the realities of a changing global economy in an adult manner with the American people. Instead of retreating, government has a part to play in helping Americans with jobs, health care and education."

-- Neil Aquino of Texas Liberal (

"President Obama is struggling because he's allowing his political enemies to drive the public discourse, delay his agenda in Congress and slow-walk his nominees. By refusing to fight for the issues he campaigned on, his electoral majority from 2008 is disillusioned and unmotivated. Perhaps once we have a Speaker Boehner and a Leader McConnell, Obama will realize that abandoning his base in search of approbation from the right was a mistake."

-- Editors of Eye On Williamson (

"Americans need to be reminded that Obama did not create this financial mess, he inherited it! The Republican attempt to erase the George Bush presidency is astonishing. Obama needs to remember that this time the mandate is his, given to him by the very people who will suffer most under his proposed spending freeze."

-- Sharon Wilson of BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas (

"Irresponsible leadership by George W. Bush and Congressional enablers left Americans on the brink of complete economic meltdown and we are far from out of the woods on that score. Why adopt the failures of  the minority party, or pretend to for political cover? There is a very small window of opportunity  before voters decide whether to let Democrats keep their majorities.  Time to turn on the gas, not put on the freeze."

--  "Boadicea," Managing Editor of Texas Kaos (

"Although deficits and debt are a undoubtedly a long-term concern, we will have little ability to fix them and reverse course until our economy is fully back on track and unemployment comes down to a reasonable number.  To that extent, the federal government ought to be looking at continued investment that will inspire confidence and leverage private investment. Any across-the-board spending freeze is counter-productive."

-- Steve Southwell of (


I think a federal spending freeze is the worst possible thing that could be done at this moment. And while I don't completely share the expressions of support for the President expressed in the above statement's opening, 'Democrat' is my default setting.  I will vote for Obama in November 2012 if he is the Democratic nominee but I prefer to see a strong primary challenger from his left -- far left (relatively speaking).

But to the freeze: I am of the mind that the stimulus did not go far enough nor was aggressive enough; that too much was packaged as tax relief than actual spending; in short I am in complete agreement with Krugman and consider myself a full-bore Keynesian in economic philosophy (as simply as it can be expressed, that it is government's responsibility to spend its way out of a recession).

This freeze might be the greatest mistake yet made by this President ... if he should actually follow through on it (no sure thing given his record on broken promises like closing Guantanamo). It strikes me as a unilateral capitulation to the screaming of conservatives whose eardrum-pained caterwauling about deficits and debt were as AWOL during George W. Bush's terms as he was during the Vietnam war.

Obama has gone too far already in trying to entice Republicans to join him and his party to participate in governing the country. If he does not begin instituting the policies that motivated Americans to elect him to the White House, he could be ejected in 2012 -- depending in large part on who his competition is.

And yet ...
And thus - while anything's possible, of course - I am hard pressed to see how the Obama administration is anything but finished. ...

The obvious solution, of course, would be a sharp turn to the left.  Go where the real solutions are.  Fight the good fight.  Call liars ‘liars' and thieves ‘thieves'.  Do the people's business.  Become their advocate against the monsters bleeding them dry.  Create jobs.  Build infrastructure.  Do real national health care.  End the wars.  Dramatically slash military spending.  Produce actual educational reform.  Launch a massive green energy/jobs program.  Get serious about global warming.  Kick ass on campaign finance reform.  Fight for gay rights.  Restore the New Deal era regulatory framework and expand it.  Restore a fair taxation structure.  Rewrite trade agreements that undermine American jobs.  Rebuild unions.  Fill the spate of vacancies in the federal judiciary, and load those seats up with progressives.  Rally the public to demand that Congress act on your agenda.  Humiliate the regressives in and out of the GOP for their abysmal sell-out policies.
All of this could be done, and most of it would be very popular, especially if it was backed by an aggressive and righteously angry Oval Office advocate for the people who knew how to use the bully pulpit to shape the narrative, to market ideas, and to mobilize public support.

Obama has just nine months to get some of the things done that he spoke about tonight that will quickly put Americans back to work, the most important and valuable thing he can do. Otherwise the electorate will spill his party's blood in the midterm elections. He's blown this first year but to analogize it to football, it's halftime; he can still make the necessary adjustments and come out slinging.

And swinging.

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