David Obey

Wisconsin As Egypt

The labor fight in Wisconsin may appear divisive, but fortunately, both sides can agree on the metaphor and who represents which side: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican chairman of the budget committee in the House, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days.” ... Former Representative David Obey of Wisconsin on Thursday accused Mr.

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David Obey recalls the stimulus debate: The problem for Obama, he wasn’t as lucky as Roosevelt, because when Obama took over we were still in the middle of a free fall. So his Treasury people came in and his other economic people came in and said "Hey, we need a package of $1.4 trillion." We started sending suggestions down to OMB waiting for a call back. After two and a half weeks, we started getting feedback. We put together a package that by then the target had been trimmed to $1.2 trillion.

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When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey slashed funding for President Obama's Race to the Top, an education reform fund, he painted the move as a regrettable necessity in order to find offsets to prevent teacher layoffs: "Mr. Obey has said, 'When a ship is sinking, you don't worry about redesigning a room, you worry about keeping it afloat,' " [Obey spokesman] Brachman said. "He is not opposed to education reform. But he believes that keeping teachers on the job is an important step." This was pretty transparently absurd.

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President Obama has threatened to veto the war funding bill that passed the House on Thursday night. The president's beef is with a provision to prevent teacher layoffs, which Democrats tacked onto the bill along with several other domestic priorities. To pay for the measure, the House agreed to cut money from some of the president's key education reform initiatives. Obama isn't happy about it. Nor should he be. Here's the back story: Thanks to severe cuts in state budgets, between 100,000 and 300,000 teachers could lose their jobs this year.

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Do Not Obey

The recession is forcing states to raise taxes and cut budgets, including education budgets, which is a wildly stupid national policy both on short-term economic grounds and in terms of investing in future human capital. The responses to this crisis have been maddeningly short-sighted. On the right, and even the center, you have self-styled deficit hawks cheering state-level Hooverism.

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Fog of War

In his legendary 19th century strategic treatise vom Kriege (On War), Carl von Clausewitz articulates several key principles of successful military strategy. President Obama, in his recent decision regarding our Afghanistan strategy, appears to have neglected many of these critical components. “Fog of war” is Clausewitz’s way of describing the opaqueness and resultant uncertainty inherent in any military campaign.

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No matter what you think of it, the kind of troop increase that President Obama announced tonight is going to be expensive. With an estimated $1 billion dollar price tag for each additional thousand troops deployed, the new strategy will drive costs well above the $130 billion originally budgeted by the administration for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2010, likely requiring a supplemental spending bill to pass sometime early next year.

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I have essential confidence in the domestic policy of this administration. Its economic advisers basically share the values of pragmatic liberalism, which means they aim for more equality rather than less. This comports with Obama's values. But he is smart enough to grasp that, on these matters, feelings do not equate with practical knowledge. So it is the appointees are who making the working decisions on TARP, on loan and mortgage policy, etc. Certainly not the president. Now, it is true that the biggest and shrewdest banks have gotten away with an enormous heist during the last period.

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President Obama is about to badly alienate antiwar Democrats by sending more troops to Afghanistan. So who will lead the charge on their behalf against the new policy? David Obey seems to want the job. The Wisconsin congressman, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee and opposes the troop increase, put forth legislation last week that proposes to finance the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by raising taxes. “I went through the Vietnam years when the cost of that damn war drained away the ability to do anything else,” he told Politico.

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The Next Paris Hilton: Why Sarah Palin Isn’t Going Away Any Time Soon by Jason Zengerle How the Obama Administration Is Dangerously Misreading the Recession by John B. Judis Obama's Latest Afghanistan Hurdle: Congressman David Obey by Jesse Zwick Sarah Palin’s Path to the Presidency?! by Michelle Cottle ‘Share the Sacrifice’: The Long History of War Taxes by Amanda Silverman The New ‘Twilight’ Movie, as a 280-Word Tone Poem by Christopher Orr Reading Obama’s Mind on Health Care by Jonathan Cohn Is the Obama Administration Warming to the Idea of a Second Stimulus?

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