In defense of old diagnoses

In defense of old diagnoses
In defense of old diagnoses
Associated Press

In just a couple of hours, President Obama will deliver an economic speech the White House is awfully excited about. Reporters haven’t heard the pitch just yet, but Dana Milbank is unimpressed.

[E]ven a reincarnated Steve Jobs would have trouble marketing this turkey: How can the president make news, and remake the agenda, by delivering the same message he gave in 2005? He’s even giving the speech from the same place, Galesburg, Ill.

White House officials say this will show Obama’s consistency…. Yes, but this also risks sending the signal that, just six months into his second term, Obama is fresh out of ideas. There’s little hope of getting Congress to act on major initiatives and little appetite in the White House to fight for bold new legislation that is likely to fail. And so the president, it seems, is going into reruns.

I can appreciate the political world’s appetite for new – new messages, new policies, new strategies, new phrases, etc. Especially for those of us in media, “new” captures our attention in ways “old” does not.

But I’d like to pause to express some appreciation for the old.

Imagine a guy goes to the doctor with an ailment and asks for a remedy. She gives the appropriate diagnosis that would make the guy better, but the patient and hospital administrators decide the solution to the problem is ideologically unsatisfying, so the prescription is ignored.

The guy’s condition doesn’t improve, so he goes back to the doctor, who again recommends the correct remedy, which is ignored once more.

As time elapses and there’s little improvement, the guy returns. The doctor reiterates her support for the appropriate solution, which has been endorsed by other medical professionals, and would work if tried. The patient replies, “It sounds to me like you’re fresh out of ideas and going into reruns.”

The economy has improved and the job market has strengthened, but few are satisfied. The Recovery Act rescued the economy, but its resources are long gone, and the immediate boost it provided that turned the economy around has faded.

Obama has accurately diagnosed the problem and prescribed the right medicine – in fact he’s done so more than once. We know what will produce a more robust recovery and the president’s preferred remedy would be pretty effective.

And with this in mind, the problem is not with the repetition of the right answer or the pizzazz with which the president offers the right solution, but rather, with lawmakers who expect to be rewarded for holding the economy back.

Milbank added, “Obama will need some bold new proposals.” Why, so Republicans can reject them, too? What if the old proposals are still the best ones?

Barack Obama

In defense of old diagnoses