Obama versus austerity: Who wins?

President Barack Obama is making a push to bolster spending on infrastructure and R&D, but is it too late for him to combat austerity? Brown says it may be.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
President Barack Obama speaks near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 2013. Obama has not successfully convinced Americans that his economic policies will create jobs, Brown says.

The debt ceiling debate resumes headed into this November for some unknown reason that makes sense to very few educated people. In the meantime, Obama's going to make another push for infrastructure spending, R&D spending, and the other things he campaigned based on - the stuff Congress won't let him enact in real life.

He is unlikely to succeed in his efforts given political realities.

This weekend, the New York Times ran a wide-ranging interview with the President on this economic agenda. Here's what he had to say about the politics of austerity during a time of growth and job market challenges:

Without a shift in Washington to encourage growth over “damaging” austerity, he added, not only would the middle class shrink, but in turn, contentious issues like trade, climate change and immigration could become harder to address.

Striking a feisty note at times, he vowed not to be cowed by his Republican adversaries in Congress and said he was willing to stretch the limits of his powers to change the direction of the debate in Washington.

“I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security,” Mr. Obama said. But he added, “I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days.”

In my opinion, neither side has articulated why its economic policies will create jobs. Obama has failed to convince the American people that we've had a historic opportunity to borrow money - essentially for free - to rebuild 30- to 70-year infrastructure around the country. As President, this should have been a primary thrust of his in the first term. Instead, we really only heard about during his campaigns.

Too late?

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