For all of the talk about how Obama has learned from the election, it's worth remembering this was exactly the same position he held before the election, just in nicer form.
And just like before the election, Obama's self-exonerating narrative is simply wrong. His agenda was never back-burnered for emergency measures. If anything, emergency measures were back-bunered for his agenda. In the summer of 2009, he pushed health care reform while his aides swore he'd eventually get around to "pivoting" to jobs. Government spending seemed to go up and get more intrusive because it did go up and did get more intrusive. Government spending went up 23 percent in two years.
And how was intrusive health care reform an "emergency measure" to grapple with the financial crisis? It's not slated to go fully into effect until 2014. It hasn't had -- and was never intended to have -- anything like an immediate positive effect on the economy. Indeed, the chief argument for it -- which Obama started making years before the financial crisis -- was that it was a moral imperative pushed by progressives for generations. Was Harry Truman seeking universal health care to fix the financial crisis of 2009?
Republicans -- virtually all of them, not just the 60-plus winners who helped wrest control of the House -- won by running against ObamaCare. But Obama says: "We'd be misreading the election if we thought the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments we had over the last two years."
Now, I will admit that anticipating voters' desires these days can be tricky. But given the last two years, I would sooner trust Barney Frank to spot a pot bush in his backyard, or Jim Moran to identify legitimate public service, than trust Barack Obama to spot the will of the voters.