Taking a stand that appeals to no one
This is pretty much what President Obama has done. He's making vague noises about the "government tightening its belt", which has made Delong, Krugman and Mark Thoma go ballistic.
Of course, contingency plans for a possible 5% cut that might involve not filling vacancies is not going to do anything to placate deficit hawks and Tea Party Peeps.
Sure the President is in a rough spot. The incumbent party generally loses seats in a mid-term election, and voters tend to punish incumbents for poor economic performance, but Obama seems to have gone totally tone deaf, appealing to neither the left or the right.
Perhaps the most disconnected part of his remarks are where he blames the upcoming electoral debacle on the Supreme Court:
Obama linked the Republican momentum to a Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to spend freely on elections.
"I would feel very confident about our position right now if it weren't for the fact that these third-party independent groups, funded by corporate special interests and run by Republican operatives, without disclosing where that money is coming from, are outspending our candidates in some cases 5 to 1, 10 to 1.. . . And it's the direct result of a Supreme Court opinion called Citizens United."
He called the opinion "a profoundly faulty Supreme Court decision [that] has opened the floodgates to special interest money, undisclosed, and having a significant impact on the election."