I've learned for two years now not to under-estimate Obama. I watched from the very start of the campaign how he strategized a path to achieving his goals partly by eschewing the kinds of tactics that Washington has come to see as political skill....Or Paul Krugman:
Now look at how Obama has framed the debate since the election. Every single symbolic act has been inclusive and sober. From that speech in Grant Park to the eschewal of euphoria on Inauguration Day; from the George Will dinner invite to the Rick Warren invocation; from meeting the House Republicans on the Hill to convening a fiscal responsibility summit; from telegraphing to all of us Obamacons that he wasn't a fiscal lunatic to ... unveiling the most expansive, liberal, big government reversal of Reagan any traditional Democrat would die for.
Smart, isn't he? He won the stimulus debate long before the Republicans realized it (they were busy doing tap-dances of victory on talk radio, while he was building a new coalition without them). And now, after presenting such a centrist, bi-partisan, moderate and personally trustworthy front, he gets to unveil a radical long-term agenda that really will soak the very rich and invest in the poor. Given the crisis, he has seized this moment for more radicalism than might have seemed possible only a couple of months ago.
Krugman continues to be critical of the administration's approach to the banking crisis, although I suspect the ultimate path chosen may be to his liking.
Elections have consequences. President Obama’s new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course.The budget will, among other things, come as a huge relief to Democrats who were starting to feel a bit of postpartisan depression. The stimulus bill that Congress passed may have been too weak and too focused on tax cuts. The administration’s refusal to get tough on the banks may be deeply disappointing. But fears that Mr. Obama would sacrifice progressive priorities in his budget plans, and satisfy himself with fiddling around the edges of the tax system, have now been banished.
Robert Scheer has a quite critical take from the left, which you can hear on KCRW via the Truthdig site.
My own sense is closer to Krugman/Sullivan but it is worth hearing Scheer's view, which is made more interesting by the counterarguments he receives from others on the show. Also take a look at this post on the Progressive Economics forum.