A year and a half ago, pundits speculated that Barack Obama, if elected President, would either work to move the country far to the left in pursuit of a liberal ideology and to satisfy decades of pent-up liberalism or govern from the center in the interest of furthering his personal ambitions and extending the pinnacle of his political career.
The first year of the Obama Presidency ended all speculation. Ideology trumped ambition, and it’s been a disaster for the President and for Democrats.
January 20th marked the beginning of his second year and also served as a demarcation between the pre-Brown and post-Brown era for the Obama Presidency.
This week offers peril and opportunity for the President to elucidate his New New Way Forward, if like many Democrats recently, Obama acknowledges the Coakley defeat as the comeuppance that it was.
Mr. Obama’s campaign-style speech here capped one of the most bruising weeks of his year in office. The President traveled to this swing-state manufacturing town ostensibly to deliver a speech about jobs and the economy, but instead he repeatedly veered off-script to interject pledges to battle his political foes over health care and other issues “so long as I have breath in me.”
Sadly for alert Democrats and in an inconceivable dream scenario for Republicans, instead of shifting gears from health care reform to job-creation; to align Washington with the rest of America, Obama opted this week to cement his station as an ideologue. Without regard for fairness, public sentiment or for that matter, securing a second term, the President declared war on the banking industry, sending the market into a minor (thus far) sell-off, undermining sentiment tied to economic recovery, and positioning himself within a new Democratic sub-minority, of, well, he and Nancy Pelosi. Even Barney Frank has said “Uncle.”
Save for later the discussion of the fact that his edict fails to recognize the corruption and culpability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both being spared, and the fact that we already have procedures in place such as increasing reserves and FDIC premiums to protect the system and “punish” banks for taking on excess risk. I’ll also forego the well-worn but valid discussion of the of the fact that much of the risk-taking at issue was forced upon them by government policy and that some of the corporations and practices Obama named specifically had nothing to do with the financial crisis.
[Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner is concerned that the proposed limits on big banks’ trading and size could impact U.S. firms’ global competitiveness, the sources said, speaking anonymously because Geithner has not spoken publicly about his reservations.
He also has concerns that the limits do not necessarily get at the root of the problems and excesses that fueled the recent financial meltdown, the sources said.
Lawrence White, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a former regulator, said Obama’s proposals were “a solution to the wrong problem.”
Ironically, these policies may result in the transfer of some pretty good jobs from Wall Street to Europe.
The new rules would ban the use of a bank’s own capital for hedge fund or private equity investment, or for trading unless it was directly connected to client activity.
However, some foreign banks believe they could escape the ban by switching their operations from Wall Street to London or continental Europe.
What Obama’s proclamation does represent is a presidency inexorably out of sync with America; especially the meaty middle, whose voice was heard load and clear in Massachusetts this week. A years’ experience has done little for a man who has never held a real job, owned a business, or exhibited a basic comprehension of the fundamentals of economics or a genuine acknowledgment of the gift that is free enterprise.
Mr. Obama’s display of anger with big financial institutions and insurers may not reassure voters who are dubious about his proposed solutions to the country’s economic problems.
Barack Obama has essentially been out of touch his entire, calculated, and increasingly apocryphal political career and may soon find his presidency floundering having sailed his most avowed mission to reform America’s health care system into a tsunami of taxpayer revolt.
Despite the fact that his policies have been soundly rejected and support within his own party is eroding, Obama’s political capital and popularity aren’t completely exhausted. The opportunity remains to move quickly to realign his presidency with the pressing needs of an American citizenry that haven’t yet completely lost hope in him.
most continue to like and respect the man they gathered around televisions to watch sworn in as president on a cold noon hour a year ago, and most still hold out hope for his presidency. Yet many also worry that, in his quest to mobilize government to solve the nation’s problems, he may have moved too far too fast.
If Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address focuses on restoring full employment, judicicious enhancements to the regulations that govern our financial system, and a renewed confidence in America’s ability to recover, rebuild and prosper once again, Obama’s may find his stock rising again.
“In his State of the Union, Obama has to slim down his ambitions. It should be short and simple and focus on jobs.”
“Obama has to decide whether he wants to be a transformational president, which looks optimistic at this stage, or merely an effective president,” says Bruce Josten, head of government affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce
Odds are, Obama will continue on his latest vector: vilifying banks, demonizing those who would dare seek an honest profit, penalizing employers, mushrooming the federal government and broadening an ongoing orgy of government spending under the guise of economic timulus, which is almost as dirty a word now as health care reform.
In short, Mr Obama’s nightmare January could easily slip into a nightmare February. “Unless and until the president changes the way his White House, works, things are going to continue to go badly for him,” says the head of a Democratic think-tank.
In turn, this will continue to fuel the tea party movement, mobilize the middle, neuter the left and manifest a Jimmy-Carteresque dreamscape only the most opportunistic Republicans could envision before last Tuesday night.
Only Obama’s teleprompter knows which path the President will chose.