It was a historically bizarre moment -- that a president attempting to sell what has become a signature legislative goal in the waning days of a congressional session would dodge out for a social occasion. There's a not-so-fine line between sanguine and out to lunch, and the president seems to have crossed it.
Perhaps he sensed the awkwardness of it all: the supposed great communicator having to use a surrogate to try to get what he wants from his own Democratic Party, while also having to make a stark admission that must have burned the tongue:
That tax cuts stimulate the economy.
That's right. He's finally admitted it.
Mr. Obama, in defending his compromise tax package against a Democratic Party revolt, acknowledged that a broad range of independent economists, from liberal to conservative, have said the package would increase economic growth by up to 1 percent -- and add as many as 1.5 million new jobs.
Undoubtedly, the president will take credit for all that, should it come to pass. But isn't he ceding a seminal point to his political opponents -- that smaller, i.e. less expensive, government is good for the economy?
History shows it also happens to be good for government: When presidents Kennedy and Reagan led moves to reduce taxes sharply, revenues to the government actually went up.
If all this is true, would not that approach have been superior all along to the government-centric "stimulus" bill that put us another trillion in debt and did next to nothing to stimulate the economy? Remember, that bill was supposed to prevent us from surpassing 8 percent unemployment -- yet, with it, unemployment has been closer to 10 percent.
Atlantic Monthly blogger Andrew Sullivan calls the tax package a "second stimulus." How can that possibly be? Don't tax cuts only "cost" the government money?
They do in the "mainstream" media's eyes. A national radio report Monday dutifully repeated liberal concerns that the tax compromise -- which would extend current tax rates for all Americans -- was "too generous" to the wealthiest Americans.
Too "generous"? So, when the government decides not to take our money, it's being "generous"? Is there a distinct problem of perspective in the national media?
And when will they acknowledge the president's sea change on the stimulative effects of tax cuts?