Pure Politics

It is what it is. What now? For President Obama, who has to be the out-front leader right now, in increasing level of difficulty/likelihood:
  1. Drop Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. Nothing else could be so easy and yet so beneficial. All you do is say, "I messed up. I was very worried that our financial situation could have spiraled out of control, so I went with some people who had no learning curve to climb over. But, thankfully, that's behind us. Now is the time for drastic changes to prevent us from ever ending up in the same situation again. And I will start with myself. I promise to put Main Street before Wall Street and DC." Then wait a day and can them. Paul Volcker and Joseph Stiglitz would probably be available. I'm not an idiot, this won't change anything with the current financial reform legislation, but it's great politics.
  2. Raise jobs to the top of the agenda. I'm going to punt on providing an actual viable solution right now, but make it the rhetorical centerpiece of everything you do domestically.
  3. Drop the current health insurance reform bill. Previously, I was pretty ambivalent about passing it or killing it. Now, I'm 100% for letting it die. The delayed starting date, mandate without a public option for all, Pharma kickback, taxing extensive coverage, et al. were all bad news to begin with. Now, add a stereotypically clueless Democratic party on the negative side if they go ahead and pass something. But all you need to acknowledge is the people have spoken on health care.
  4. Raise taxes. End the Bush tax cuts one year early, as you campaigned on. This one is yours to sell. Raise capital gains taxes instead of going directly after Wall Street bonuses. Warren Buffett can be your point man. Pledge these extra revenues to pay down the deficit. People probably won't believe you, but so what. And offer to increase the federal gas tax to be used exclusively for transportation infrastructure as an alternative to cap-and-trade. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) would be happy to champion this for you.
By the way, the first three would be complete repudiations of how Obama has governed so far - as if there is a reasonable middle made up of Republican and Democrats that can get things done. Instead, they would unite the fringes of the political spectrum, the Hard Left and the Tea Baggers, in common cause. Add the party-loyal Democrats and start to play hardball in the Senate (examples to come) and it should be enough to rebound off of the Dems-are-dead-and-buried current storyline.

Updates I, II and III after the jump. Including evidence Obama reads my blog!

UPDATE: Okay, #3 might have been a little hasty. So my second-guessing begins. I don't agree with Michael Tomasky very much, he's the epitome of the Okay-I'm-a-partisan-but-a-weak-kneed-one-so-I've-got-more-clout-than-those-other-hacks pundit and he's constantly going on about independent voters and President Obama's approval rating, but he's got a good summary of the mixed feelings I have over what to do now. Really, I don't know, but just pray that this is a wake-up call to Obama to starting fighting the good fight.

UPDATE II: Okay, okay. The Village Voice gets my dauber up: Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority in the Senate. (h/t Tomasky)

Volker and ObamaUPDATE III: OKAY! That's what I'm talking about! Taking a Populist Stance, Obama Takes on Banks:
It was also a victory for Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman and outside adviser to Mr. Obama.

Until Thursday, when he stood beside the president at the White House announcement of the new policy, Mr. Volcker truly had been on the outside of administration decision-making. And, in frustration, he had been increasingly vocal about the need for the administration to clamp down on what he described as the same sort of casinolike operations at the big banks that nearly destroyed the financial system in the first place.

In adopting the tougher line, Mr. Obama set aside a more limited approach to regulation that had been championed since last year by his economic team, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.
And:
The issue reignited speculation, common in the administration’s early months, that Mr. Geithner and perhaps Lawrence H. Summers, the senior White House economic adviser, were not long for the Obama world given broad public perceptions that they remained too close to the financial industry.
Joseph Stiglitz come on down!

2 comments:

Jayhawk said...

Unfortunately, it seems he is mobing deficit reduction up near the top of the list. I'm not sure I can think of anything worse for him to do, but signs are there...

Norwegian Shooter said...

Deficit reduction without touching the defense budget is worse. See today's post.