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Obama, Just As Advertised

Did you know President Obama's advisers seriously proposed establishing a national sales tax holiday to boost the economy--and that Obama rejected it, thinking it was a feel-good move that wouldn't make a long-term difference in the economy? Here's the full story, via Joe Klein's terrific new Time article about the transition, the Inauguration, and what lies ahead:

In the midst of the transition, President Obama was faced with a telling policy choice: whether to declare a temporary sales-tax holiday. His economic advisers loved the idea. It would provide immediate consumer stimulus, a direct jolt that might unclog the commercial arteries. The money could be easily passed from the Federal Government to the states, which administer sales taxes. But Obama resisted and finally rejected the idea. "He thought it would provide a temporary benefit, that it had no substantial or lasting policy impact," a senior transition adviser told me. "I think he was remembering the campaign, when Hillary and McCain favored the gas-tax holiday, which he thought was frivolous, and he opposed it for that very reason — if we're going to spend money, let's spend it on investments that will make us stronger in the future."

It sounds like the Obama we got on the campaign trail is the same one we're getting in the Oval Office.*  

By the way, Klein also notes the plans for a health care summit, sometime in the spring, to kick off a reform effort designed to produce legislation in the fall. More on that here.

*Note: I profess no expertise on whether a sales tax holiday would actually be a good idea. I'm merely noting that Obama's judgment here seems very consistent with his judgment on the campaign trail. 

--Jonathan Cohn