In his latest piece, Karl Rove describes the political realities of going over the fiscal cliff. His bottom line is that the result from such an event may harm both the President and Congress, however, the lasting effect could cripple Obama during his second term.
If negotiations stall and Washington plunges over the fiscal cliff, it will weaken Mr. Obama’s ability to bend Congress to his will, hasten the moment when congressional Democrats become more concerned about their standing than that of a lame-duck president, and further poison relations with Republicans.
On top of all that, a second-term president has total ownership of the economy. If the Congressional Budget Office is correct and going over the fiscal cliff causes the economy to shrink and unemployment to rise—while Americans see tax bills going up an average of nearly $3,500—then Republicans won’t escape blame but neither will the president. The damage to him may be long-lasting.
A weakened Mr. Obama makes recruiting and preparing for the 2014 midterms easier for Republicans and harder for Democrats.
He also spells out the strategy that the GOP should follow in navigating the fiscal cliff issue:
The key for Republicans is to appear flexible rather than intransigent, willing to compromise rather than eager for a political smashup. This requires them to keep offering sensible alternatives and emphasizing that the country’s problem is too much spending. It will eventually sink in with many voters that Mr. Obama previously endorsed the GOP’s approach of generating more revenue through tax reform (not increased tax rates) and that his real goal is bigger government, not smaller deficits.
Republicans, therefore, must continue to volley. Always put the ball back in the President’s court and make him decide that he’s out of ideas.
Perhaps the President thinks he has more political capital than he really does:
Americans who voted for Obama reflect that call for balance more than his ultimatums have: Politico reported Monday that a poll for a moderate Democratic think tank, Third Way, found 85 percent of Obama voters favoring higher taxes on the wealthy: “Yet 41 percent who supported the Democratic incumbent want to get control of the deficit mostly by cutting spending, with only some tax increases, while another 41 percent want to solve it mostly with tax increases and only some spending cuts. Just 5 percent of Obama supporters favor tax increases alone to solve the deficit, half the number who back an approach that relies entirely on spending cuts.”
E. Thomas McClanahan writes in the Kansas City Star how the Obama years may be looked at as America’s “lost decade” years from now:
After five years of lousy economic performance, you would think people would be sick of it by now. Guess not. How else to explain why we’re having a big fight over inequality instead of arguing over how to jump-start growth?
There’s no denying inequality has increased. Median wages haven’t kept up while families in the upper tax brackets have prospered. But even so, getting the economy back on its typical growth path of 3.4 percent a year should be the overriding imperative.
That would do wonders for the immediate problem of too few jobs and too many jobless — not to mention the problem of lagging incomes and insufficient federal revenue.
Marc Caputo, from The Miami Herald, analyzes how we’re already tumbling head-long into the 2016 contest which inevitably (many would say) will involve Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. In case you missed it, there was a moderate kerfuffle over some comments made in a GQ magazine interview of Sen. Rubio. He was asked how old he thought the earth was (a curious question, as I’m sure it is never put towards a left leaning politicians). Since he did not immediately say that the earth was “X” number of billions of years old, many perceived that he was a type of evangelical extremist. Mr. Caputo, who has covered the Florida resident for years, has the following analysis:
For the record, in the decade we’ve covered the West Miami resident, Rubio has never sounded or really acted like a religious fundamentalist. But he is deeply conservative in many of his religious beliefs and he has voiced support for a modified type of Creationism, known as Intelligent Design.
As Florida House Speaker in 2008, Rubio passively supported an Intelligent Design-related bill, but allowed it to die in his chamber. He spent no political capital on it. And he didn’t suggest then that the Earth was only a few thousand years old or that this was subject to scientific dispute.
None of that was mentioned by the liberals intent on making Rubio into a right-wing nutcase this month.
As usual, Keith Backer at the Battleground Watch blog has some really good information about the election. (If you don’t frequent his blog, and you’re an enthusiastic election follower, then I would recommend checking it out.)
The Washington Times describes how to close the deficit without raising taxes. Obviously, there are two competing thoughts on the subject: the Center for American Progress (left leaning think tank) proposes perpetually higher taxes and an actual increase in overall spending. On the other aide, the Heritage Foundation describes a way that balance can be archived without taking more funds out of the private economy.
Obama’s favorite think tank, the Center for American Progress, submitted a plan that calls for the federal government to eat up more than 20 percent of the American economy through taxation every year, in perpetuity. Being the liberals that they are, CAP calls for even higher levels of spending — above 22 percent of GDP by 2022 alone.
Contrast CAP’s plan with that of the Heritage Foundation. It returns taxation to just above the historical U.S. average at 18.5 percent of GDP. By cutting spending to pre-Great Society levels, the Heritage plan not only balances the budget but actually begins to lower our cumulative national debt.
Heritage achieves these savings by repealing Obamacare; making the wealthy pay more for their Medicare benefits and shifting the program to a premium-support model; capping Medicaid spending and turning the program over to the states; and transforming Social Security back into an anti-poverty program as originally promoted by President Franklin Roosevelt.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Washington Post published a story discussing how Obama is planning on dealing with the ongoing mortgage dilemma. Of course, the first suggestion to Obama from is cadre of advisors was to (wait for it…wait for it…) forgive the debt:
Nearly all said Obama should introduce a much bigger plan to forgive part of the mortgage debt owed by millions of homeowners who are underwater on their properties.
The ongoing mortgage crisis is nothing new. This has been a perpetual drag on economy since the first day that President Obama took office. It is interesting to note that contained within the story is the acknowledgment that the “recovery” that we have been experiencing has sputtered.
The meeting highlighted what today is the biggest disagreement between some of the world’s top economists and the Obama administration. The economists say the president could have significantly accelerated the slow economic recovery if he had better addressed the overhang of mortgage debt left when housing prices collapsed. Obama’s advisers say that they did all they could on the housing front and that other factors better explain why the recovery has been sluggish.
The question is relevant because although Obama won reelection this month, the vast majority of voters still say the economy is weak and not getting better. Policymakers in Washington are now focused on another type of debt — the public debt all taxpayers owe — but the slow economic recovery, which depresses tax revenue, makes that problem harder to solve.
The odds that President Obama successfully gets a bill through the house waving hundreds of millions of mortgage debt is slim to none. Right now, Congress and the White House are focusing squarely on the fiscal cliff. This is especially true as Speaker of the House John Boehner is focusing almost exclusively on navigating the tax rate issues.
A good piece in the Wall Street Journal digs deeper into the conventional wisdom regarding Romney’s loss. As it turns out, Romney’s turnout problems may have been worse than people previously thought. Sure, we know that he garnered about the same or less than McCain did in 2008. What we’re starting to see as the numbers are finalized throughout the country, is how poor he did amongst Hispanics. Obama did worse than 2008, but Gov. Romney failed to capitalize on the downturn. Obviously, there are many reasons for this. It’s the exception, not the rule, that one particular issue or gaffe (such as the famed comment made about the 47%).
What we are seeing is that the GOP needs to make a consistent and concerted effort to reach out to those groups who appear hesitant towards the conservative message.
This is the demographic argument that is getting so much attention, and properly so. The Republican Party can hope that a future Democratic candidate won’t equal Mr. Obama’s magnetism for minority voters. But the GOP would do far better by fighting aggressively for a piece of the minority electorate.
And that, for the record, was the GOP’s real 2012 turnout disaster. Elections are about the candidate and the message, yes, but also about the ground game. Republicans right now are fretting about Mr. Romney’s failures and the party’s immigration platform—that’s fair enough. But equally important has been the party’s mind-boggling failure to institute a competitive Hispanic ground game. The GOP doesn’t campaign in those communities, doesn’t register voters there, doesn’t knock on doors. So while pre-election polling showed that Hispanics were worried about Obama policies, in the end the only campaign that these voters heard from—by email, at their door, on the phone—was the president’s.
Often missed in talk of the GOP’s “demographics problem” is that it would take relatively modest minority-voter shifts toward Republicans to return the party to a dominating force. The GOP might see that as the enormous opportunity it is, rather than a problem. The key to winning turnout is having more people to turn out in the first place.