NYT and Obama’s ‘Disagreeable Medicine’

Today New York Times reporter Helene Cooper (8/10/11) surveys the bad economic situation and asks of Barack Obama:

Is he willing to try to administer the disagreeable medicine that could help the economy mend over the long term, even if that means damaging his chances for re-election?

What’s that mean, exactly? The first person she quotes is former Clinton official (more recently, former managing director of Kissinger Associates) David Rothkopf, and he’s talking about cutting so-called “entitlements”:

Mr. Obama, Mr. Rothkopf argues, has to focus in the next 18 months on getting the economy back on track for the long haul, even if that means pushing for politically unpalatable budget cuts, including real–but hugely unpopular–reductions in Social Security, other entitlement programs and the military.

From a different partisan point of view, Cooper finds the same medicine:

A longtime Republican strategist echoed Mr. Rothkopf. Charlie Black, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain when he ran for president, said Mr. Obama “has got two big problems”–the unemployment rate and the budget deficit.

“Frankly, there’s not a whole lot he can do about jobs now,” Mr. Black said. “But it would help if we got the deficit under control, and to do that, you’ve got to reform entitlements.”

Cooper notes that some Democrats aren’t crazy about Obama’s policies so far (she doesn’t get into details), but that White House officials think Obama deserves credit for

not shying from politically unpalatable choices, demonstrating his willingness during the debt ceiling negotiations to make cuts in entitlements and programs dear to the hearts of Democrats.

That’s the corporate media’s economic advice in a nutshell: You can’t do much about jobs, but cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits is always the right “medicine.”

Update: The New York Times piece had a correction appended to it on Wednesday:

A news analysis article on Wednesday about President Obama’s handling of the economy paraphrased incompletely from comments by David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration Commerce Department official, about steps that Mr. Obama should take to fix the economy and budget deficit. While Mr. Rothkopf called for the president to push for politically unpalatable budget cuts to entitlement programs and the military, he also said the president should do so in the context of a “grand bargain” in which the cuts would come in exchange for significant job-creating stimulus and increased tax revenues.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.