9. Faced with Republican demands for leaner government, embraced them! Instead of letting GOPs make him the champion of bigger government and higher taxes, Obama could have said he thought higher taxes are probably inevitable but that he wasn’t going to raise them or cut a penny from benefits until he was sure all the fat has been wrung out of Washington. Become Dr. Cut-the-Bloat! Instead of letting his top management officialadvertise for a new $80,000-a-year ”deputy speechwriter,” tell him to lead a government-wide diet of the sort private companies conduct all the time. Publicize and promote the agency heads who cut their staffs and lower their budget requests instead of those who protect their turf. Have some “RIFs”–actual layoffs of redundant bureaucrats. The goal would not just be to reduce the deficit but to shrink the government to a level that’s … how do they put it … sustainable. This would be the greatest gift Obama could give to liberalism, and it would leave the Republicans gasping for air, speechless, Don’t they teach “co-optation” in Alinsky school? Given the choice between a triangulator and someone who acts like a triangulator, people will vote for the real triangulator every time.
10. Defend the core of Medicare, a popular universal program that works and (according to Orszag) is cutting costs, rather than proposing to shrink Medicare by raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67. It seems like only yesterday Democrats were trying to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55–a political winner. Now the party has to defend a standard bearer who wants to raise taxes but who has no sympathy for the most valuable things those taxes pay for. (Screw granny for “green jobs”!).