President Obama has a huge opportunity to be the President most independents and moderates thought he would be when they voted for him in November of 2009. This opportunity revolves around negotiations to raise the debt ceiling (the amount the United States can borrow in total) and the Republican insistence that this be done in conjunction with a massive reduction in our nation’s debt. Interestingly, Republicans have created a situation where Obama could make the most positive of his troubled Presidency.
What would he have to do? In summary, he would have to be the man he pretended to be during his campaign. He would have to be reasonable, non-partisan, and he would have to eliminate special interests and campaign contributors’ interests and focus only on what he knows– on what he KNOWS– is right for the American people. For him to do this would require a major shift from his style as he has proven to be one of the most partisan and divisive Presidents in our lifetime. But he could do it, and if so it would be a heroic move, one which if consistently applied to other major issues over the next 16 months could lead him to victory leveraging the votes of moderates in the 2012 election.
What should Obama do? Embrace the previously shunned bi-partisan “Deficit Commission” report (found here), and if necessary some elements of the Ryan Plan (found here). If the President needs political cover, he can find it in the fact that the Deficit Commission report was bi-partisan and there are numerous statements of support of its content by both Republicans and Democrats. For the most part both of these documents outline what every thinking member of Congress and the President’s staff knows, which is that entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) must be reformed in order to avoid American bankruptcy in the future.
Though Obama’s embracing of such plans is nothing more than meeting his most basic responsibilities as President, because he has rejected them or ignored them to date he could extract concessions from Republicans on taxes in order to get agreement. This could be done fairly easily for both political parties through mutual agreement to “raise revenues” (Democrats would call it a “tax increase” and please their base, Republicans would call it agreement to “close loopholes” or raise fees). All parties save face, America gets on a path to financial stability, and Obama is the hero who saved the day.
One other benefit for the President which he may not be aware of. If he follows the above path, I will write a positive post about him on this blog, as I have done once in the past. It’s one I hope to have to write.