Framing the economic rescue package

FRAMING THE ECONOMIC RESCUE PACKAGE…. Back from vacation, Barack Obama delivered another radio/YouTube address on his vision for a massive economic recovery package. He framed his proposal in an interesting way.

Reminiscent of the style of rhetoric we heard a lot of during the presidential campaign, Obama continues to advocate an ambitious, progressive agenda using middle-of-the-road language. He insisted this morning, for example, that the “problems we face today are not Democratic problems or Republican problems.” The pressures facing families “know no boundaries of party or ideology.” We must “come together as Americans,” and do what “economists from across the political spectrum agree” we must do. Obama noted that he’ll head to Washington next week to meet with “leaders from both parties,” to craft a recovery plan that advances “not the interests of any party, or the agenda of any one group, but the aspirations of all American.”

At the same time, however, the proposal itself in unquestionably progressive. Obama continues to tout an “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan” focused on energy independence, infrastructure investments, improvements to the health care system, and a renewed emphasis on improving public schools.

The not-so-subtle goal, it seems, is to present a liberal agenda as the obvious, consensus approach on which everyone can agree.

It reminded me of something Atrios said about a month ago, when he mentioned how satisfied he’d be if Obama’s team convinces people that Obama is “a sensible centrist who wants to do sensible centrist things like build SUPERTRAINS, get out of Iraq, not torture people or invade random countries, strengthen labor protections, reduce income inequality, improve education, provide health care for people, and reduce poverty.”

It’s all about changing — or more accurately, moving — the definition of “centrism.”