Friday, November 30, 2012

President Obama calls the GOP's fiscal bluff

Judging by my progressive friends, I guess I'm supposed to be all cynical about the fiscal dip soap opera but call me Pollyanna, I find President Obama's latest move encouraging. He laid down very clear, substantial demands on what he wants out of the deal. That includes raising the top 2% tax rates, extending UI benefits, the payroll holiday and about $50bn in direct stimulus spending. Even better, he's insisting the debt ceiling be dealt with now instead of being held in abeyance to be used for future GOP hostage taking.

This left the Republicans sputtering in outraged disbelief. They want the old somewhat timid, mild mannered, consensus seeking President back. But I don't think they're going to see that guy again. The conventional wisdom suggests second term presidents aren't ambitious and are little more than placeholders seeking to protect whatever gains they made in the first four years. But these aren't conventional times, nor is Obama an ordinary president.

Being the first black president comes with its own set of challenges. The normal rules and precedents don't apply. And sure he made some miscalculations in the first term but he's learned from them.
Perhaps the key lesson the White House took from the last couple of years is this: Don’t negotiate with yourself. If Republicans want to cut Medicare, let them propose the cuts. If they want to raise revenue through tax reform, let them identify the deductions. If they want deeper cuts in discretionary spending, let them settle on a number. And, above all, if they don’t like the White House’s preferred policies, let them propose their own. ...
Also, he's not a rest on his laurels kind of guy. For one thing, that I think many of the white male pundits who dominate our discourse don't really understand, it's different when you're trying to achieve as someone from outside their priviledged demographic. Nothing is handed to you by dint of fortune of birth. You have to work harder to prove your value and find more creative, non-threatening ways to gain acceptance. It takes time to figure it all out.

President Obama has been setting new precedents, while at the same time fulfilling the million mundane rituals of the office and dealing with a ridiculous number of real time crises that require major life or death decisions. I think people often fail to appreciate how overwhelming that work load must be.

I'm as cynical as the next guy about politics and politicans, especially in D.C. Nonetheless, I honestly believe Obama cares more about the future of our country, and our society, than he does about personal glory. I have a feeling history will judge him much more kindly than he has been by his contemporaries.

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I have a feeling you'll be right, but history can be a bit of a whore. FDR started the Depression you know and not too many people like Lincoln down here.

10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I believe that falls under the "those who don't learn from history" clause.

11:19:00 AM  

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