In attempting to harness public anger over the financial crisis on behalf of his budget, President Obama is confronting the politically uncomfortable fact that the success of his long-term agenda and Wall Street’s recovery are intertwined.
By Alec MacGillis and Scott Wilson
The Washington Post
That acknowledgment is reflected in the president’s shift in tone from his tempestuous town hall appearances in California last week to Tuesday evening’s more sober appraisal of who is responsible for the frozen credit markets, insolvent banks and burst real estate bubble.
He condemned Wall Street “Ponzi schemes, even when they’re legal, where a relatively few do spectacularly well while the middle class loses ground” during a March 18 town hall event in California’s Orange County, which is now closing elementary schools because of falling property tax revenue. Back inside the Beltway, the president said during his prime-time news conference that some of us “can’t afford to demonize every investor and entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit.”
In the balance as he attempts to walk this line is Obama’s long-term agenda, embodied in the budget he was selling on Capitol Hill yesterday and which a House panel passed on a party-line vote late last night. To build public support for his $3.6 trillion package of plans to reform health care, energy and education, Obama is attempting a kind of transference — persuading Americans that the excesses crystallized by bonuses for the AIG unit at the center of the financial collapse can only be fixed by the systemic overhaul of the economy represented by his budget.