CNN Senior White House Correspondent
The metaphorical ink is still barely dry on the long, flowery press release President Obama sent out last Friday reacting to the drastic budget cuts proposed by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that he appointed.
"Jobs and growth are our most urgent need," the President said Friday. "But if we want an America that can compete for the jobs of tomorrow, we simply cannot allow our nation to be dragged down by our debt. We must correct our fiscal course."
What a difference three days make. On Monday Obama signed off on a tax deal that independent budget analysts I've spoken to - including Stan Collender of Qorvis Communications - believe will add as much as $900 billion to the national debt. That expense would be higher than the $814 billion Obama stimulus package from 2009 and could basically cost as much as a second stimulus package.
"Yes, absolutely," Collender said when I asked whether this will be a second stimulus package by another name. "Whether it will have as much of an impact [as the first stimulus] is another question," because of the fact that the tax deal largely keeps existing policy in place, rather than creating many new tax cuts to spark the economy.
But Collender's point was that even if this second package is not very stimulative (the Bush era tax cuts will stay in place rather than create new spending), it will cost taxpayers about the same or maybe more than the first stimulus due to the inclusion of items such as the social security tax holiday and estate tax exemption.
It's no wonder then that even while the president acknowledged there will need to be "hard choices" about government spending in the days ahead when he addressed reporters on Monday, he essentially said that difficult conversation will wait for another day down the road because the bipartisan tax deal was too good to resist.
"It's the right thing to do for jobs," Obama said. "It's the right thing to do for the middle class. It is the right thing to do for business. And it's the right thing to do for our economy. It offers us an opportunity that we need to seize."
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