Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's Agenda Faces New Realities

Since the Spring of 09, I have been pointing out that one of Obama's biggest failures was that he took his eye off the ball (the economy) and drifted into all sorts of other areas that probably wouldn't be good for his Presidency. We now know even more definitively that this has turned out to be the case. Not that Health Care wasn't a laudable goal.... I just didn't think that it was very realistic, especially in the middle of what historians may end up calling a mild depression. At a time when everyone is pulling back on their spending and conscious of every dollar...it wasn't a great idea to ask for a huge expenditure. In addition to that problem, there was the issue of a stimulus package with a huge price tag that most Americans could see was falling flat. Hard to go back to voters after that to ask for more money.

Health Care would have been a hard sell, even in the best economic conditions. The same corrupt system would have fought to kill it, no matter what. But pushing Health Care reform in the middle of an economic crisis didn't help.

I wrote back in the Spring/Summer of 09 that more attention should have been given to job creation, particularly as part of the stimulus legislation. But Obama got bogged down on Health Care, and allowed all sorts of other distractions.

Now Obama is paying the political price for not keeping his eye on the ball (the economy and jobs) over the past year. He almost squandered 2009. Some suggest that he wasted the past year. I won't go that far. But he certainly got bogged down dealing with Health Care non-reform and the Republicans. Now I hope that he understands that Republicans are obstructionists. They wanted to make his first year so difficult that he wouldn't have much to show for his first year in office...and would be seen as faltering leading into the mid-terms. It's amazing how Republicans were the primary culprits in creating the crisis, yet they successfully put the problem in the laps of President Obama and the Democrats and made them the bad guys in the eyes of voters. (And the Dems didn't challenge that nearly as hard as they should have). Unbelievable.

A year later... Obama suddenly wants to rediscover the pulse (and the concerns) of the voters. Voters are concerned about the same thing that they were concerned about in September of 2008.. the economy. It hasn't changed. But Obama may be a year too late. It should not have taken the election of Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat to wake anyone up.

Here is where Obama's agenda stands right now in my view: Initiatives that will or won't become policy

America's Decline Continues (it's like watching a Horror Movie, except you are part of the show).

Cap & Trade/Climate Legislation/Copenhagen promises Dead on Arrival

Meaningful Campaign Finance Limits to Save What Few Remnants of Democracy We Have Left Nope

Immigration Reform Dead on Arrival

Meaningful Campaign Finance Limits to Save What Few Remnants of Democracy We Have Left Nope

Meaningful Health Care Reform Nope

• Financial Reform -- Maybe

Protecting the Least of These Nope

• Creating Jobs -- Maybe ✔ (But more on Republican Terms...which may end up limiting success. They will attempt to water down anything President Obama proposes)

Energy Independence Nope. Special Interests (oil companies) have too much to lose.

Stabilizing Afghanistan and Staying on track in Iraq Unlikely. Iraqi's need their own military hardware. Until they receive it, they will be dependent on the U.S. They have yet to prove that they can operate as a fully independent force. The insurgency has continued, although with less intensity.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to chase ghosts. Ultimately, you can't fight and defeat an ideology with troops, bombs and tanks. The U.S. has to pour more resources into creating jobs/an economy, combating poppy farming and providing farmers with good paying alternatives, and training Afghans.

Green Jobs Nope (we needed a more aggressive FDR type of an approach to job creation as part of stimulus)

Net Neutrality This will depend on how policy is made. Right now, I will say it's unlikely.

Fairness Doctrine Nope. This is not a stated goal of the Obama Administration but it should be. If he tried to enact it, Republicans would likely try to block it in the U.S. Senate.

A Second Stimulus Spending bill Dead on Arrival.

Spending Freeze/Tackling Deficit in any meaningful way Maybe. But unlikely to be effective. Won't save much money. Too many obligations with two wars, and a crisis in Haiti (not to mention any other crisis' that we don't know about yet).

Big Bank Tax Nope. Unlikely to pass Senate as currently proposed.

• Student Loan Relief -- Maybe(Love this proposal...what took so long Mr. President?)

Rebuilding Electric Grid Nope. The money that was going to be used for this purposal was to come from the Cap & Trade plan, and Cap & Trade is Dead on Arrival.

Modernizing Train Travel...building new track for high speed rail, etc. Nope.


This doesn't leave Obama with much of an agenda at all. He should focus on smaller goals...and should choose battles that are winnable IMO. He has to also (more important that anything) run a more effective and aggressive PR campaign. If he continues to lose the information war.... allowing Republicans to control the megaphone and the message like they have been... his Presidency will continue to suffer, no matter how many Democratic Party Karl Rove's he reaches out to for help. No one will be able to salvage his Presidency in that scenario.

1 comment:

ch555x said...

The key, as was mentioned at the end, is the information war. All the misinformation and disinformation from the previous year has clouded the message(s). That's where the base comes in, especially if they want to see POTUS (and this country) move forward...