I read the Democratic Party platform last night, a 40-page document that mostly repeats the message from past Obama budgets and State of the Union addresses. Party platforms from the incumbent defend the past four years as much as they set an agenda for the future, and this one is no different. “We knew that renewing the American Dream wouldn’t be easy – we knew it would take more than one year, or one term, or even one President,” it says, downplaying the current state of the economy and playing up the forward motion and progress. And it definitely paints the election as a choice; in almost every plank, it contrasts positions with Mitt Romney’s.
There are a couple sections I want to break down, but let’s start with those related to the grand bargain, because this is probably the one thing you’ll see action on immediately, due to the fiscal cliff. That particular issue doesn’t appear in the party platform; there is no opinion on whether to allow the “trigger,” which would cut defense and discretionary spending over the next 10 years by about $1.2 trillion, to go forward. In fact, in the section on “Cutting Waste, Reducing the Deficit, Asking All to Pay Their Fair Share” (p.8), it assumes away the trigger by highlighting that “President Obama has already signed into law $2 trillion in spending reductions as part of a balanced plan to reduce our deficits by over $4 trillion over the next decade while taking immediate steps to strengthen the economy now.”
There’s a conceit there that you don’t normally see – that the $2 trillion in spending cuts are PART of the $4 trillion in deficit reduction. Most of the fiscal scolds pretend that the debt limit deal never