Today, President Obama unveiled a truly populist agenda, by proposing to tax millionaires at the same tax rate that middle-class Americans pay. By doing so, Obama will (hopefully) redefine the term "populism" in the political conversation.
What did we just go through and what does it mean for our national politics, our fiscal and economic policy? If your conclusion is that Democrats got rolled because the president is a lousy negotiator, I disagree.
As the faith community has said now for many years, budgets are moral documents. They reflect not just spending priorities but our highest ideals as a nation.
Pick your metaphor, but any way you look at it, America's political leaders are flirting with disaster, risking the first debt default in American history.
We cannot balance our budget or reduce our debt without understanding the effects of these cuts and slashes on the lives and livelihoods of our nation's girls and women.
Now that the debt ceiling is in play, there's no end to what the radical right will demand in the budget negotiations. Which leads to a more basic question: Are voters ready and willing to mount primary challenges to incumbent Democrats who cave?
If President Obama doesn't want to go down in history as the Democratic President who began the dismantling of signature Democratic achievements, he must have the same courage in standing up to Republican hostage takers as he did in going after Bin Laden.
Obama is now making strong promises he's already broken. He's like a political version of the Guy Pearce character in Memento -- he's figured out a way to break promises outside of the limitations of linear time.
Reducing the country's $14 trillion debt is a critical national priority. While the president's plan would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years, Rep. Ryan's plan would have no perceptible impact on the federal deficit.
The middle class must pay more taxes or the country must forfeit services because the wealthy pay lower taxes. We learn about cuts to public services as we write checks to pay for them.
The White House and the Congress have completely sidelined the public in the budget processes. Numbers and plans are thrown around in order to obscure rather than clarify the choices being made behind closed doors.
In 2008, candidate Obama laid out traditional American moral principles as well as anyone ever has, and roused the nation in support. As president, as he focused on pragmatics and policy, he let moral leadership lapse. But that changed last week.
There's one big weakness in the president's budget plan. The whole thing depends on the recovery picking up steam. If the economy doesn't improve, his process could backfire and lead to indiscriminate cuts in the future.
The political "grand bargain" Obama must strike couldn't be clearer: GOP support for raising revenues in return for Democratic support for constraining public health care and retirement costs.
Washington conventional wisdom has convinced itself that Obama has been on the losing end of the budget debate. But with his speech yesterday, Obama seized the high political ground that will heavily define his second two years in office.