I think I may have found a satisfying explanation of President Obama’s actions. Remember though, that there is always the chance that any explanation is just more spin upon spin. Additionally, I may be looking for an answer that might not be valid, only serving to justify my belief in Barack Obama.
There is a great divide between the purity of ideology during a campaign and the drudgery of governing. This has been one of the major sticking points during the President’s two years in office. Then throw into the fray the ever-present posturing for our perennial elective cycles, and it is amazing if anything at all gets done. As combative and obstructionist as the GOP has been during President Obama’s tenure, his own party members have been even more critical. Case in point: as was true in the passage of HRC (without the public option), currently serving Democrats are furious that President Obama has “caved” to the GOP’s agenda item of continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. In pure ideological terms, it is an abomination to economic equity and the supposed number one goal to reduce the deficit. The GOP’s argument that the benefits will trickle down to the less well-off has been proven null and void since Reagan spouted that nonsense.
Nevertheless, the tax cuts have been extended for another two years. The trade-off was that the Democrats got an extension of unemployment benefits for one more year. Both of these bills kick sand in the eyes of those who are screaming for deficit reduction. However, after last November’s election, President Obama, responding to the public’s number one concern of unemployment, vowed to make this his top goal. That is exactly what he is doing. Ideological purity aside, he is positioning himself to fulfill his promise to put Americans back to work.
The following article by Andrew Sullivan explains this analysis. As I said earlier, it still may be just spin on spin. Please read it carefully:
According to Sullivan, our President is holding true to his vow to help America’s job situation. As a corollary of this policy, what we view as the President’s lack of focus might very well be an even more formidable, steadfast approach to seeing his promised agenda fulfilled. Furthermore, in our lackluster, lagging and very-slow-to-recover economy, both the tax breaks for the rich and the benefits for the unemployed will be catalysts to perhaps, speed up the recovery. Thus, this just may be the “second stimulus” package that some experts have been calling for all along. This is the “slap in the face” to the GOP about which Sullivan writes. Perhaps Mitch McConnell HAS been suckered. Perhaps our President IS politically more savvy than his GOP cohorts. And, if this policy adds to the recovery over the next two years, President Obama will be the big winner in the next election.
I just am not sure about the depth of Sullivan’s analysis. Are his ideas merely a rationalization of the latest developments to validate the President, or are they timely, wise compromises and decisions? Time will tell.
It is amazing to me that our lawmakers will not just have up and down votes on pending legislation. They should vote their beliefs based on the needs of their constituents. Instead, it appears that the heart of the bills are ripped apart, each bit traded for another bit, so that in the end, neither Party gets anything that approximates their initial agenda. Ideologically the people become angry at the horse trading and the watered down results. Realistically though, this is called compromise. In a huge nation such as America, where the population is almost perfectly divided in half in their political beliefs, this bastardization of promises and government might be the best we can hope for.
One last thing: neither the tax cuts nor the extension of unemployment benefits has been passed yet. President Obama’s own henchman might end any chance of compromise. How ironic: one’s allies cutting off the knees of their leader. In that vein, Sullivan might be totally off base, i.e. the President and the Democrats just might be their own worst poison.
READ SULLIVAN’S ARTICLE!!!!