Whatever the real reason for the timing, it's interesting that President Obama decided that this week was the moment--when consensus is gelling that Mitt Romney is the all-but-inevitable GOP nominee--to announce a very Romney-esque cost-cutting plan.
At a White House event complete with business CEOs as props and a slide presentation (the kind Bain Capital once perfected), the president urged Congress to give him the power to merge a plethora of trade and commerce functions that are now dispersed among the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency. The consolidation would save some $3 billion and 1,000 to 2,000 jobs over ten years, the White House said.
It was, in other words, precisely the kind of government-slashing exercise that Romney, the numbers-whiz-consultant-turned-governor-turned-candidate, has been promising we'll get from him as president. To be fair, Obama had promised such a move in his last State of the Union address, and the next SOTU is fast approaching. But one wonders whether this will be the first in a series of moves intended to convey to voters: you don't need Mitt Romney. You've already got me.