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Second-Term Strategies

Now on the home page, Nathan Pippenger on what President Obama faces in his second term:

Obamas first four years were as consequential as any presidency since Lyndon Johnsons, but without four more, they might largely have been erased.Yet positive results may still be hard to come by in a second term. Until at least 2014, Obama will face a divided Congress: undisciplined allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate and unshakeable antagonismif not contemptin the Republican-controlled House. This has never been a recipe for functional governance.The kind of gridlock Ive described may give the dispiriting impression that the next two years will resemble the past two. Well, why shouldnt they? Its true that congressional Republicans have failed in their top priority (Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, candidly admitted in 2010 that the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president), but the basic incentive structures favoring gridlock havent changed. Recent political science research suggests that the opposition parties face a win-lose, not a win-win, scenario when reaching a bipartisan compromise with the president. For Republicans, then, bipartisanship is not only bad policy; its bad politics. Unless voters start to punish the GOP for inaction, it has strong incentives to continue obstructionism with an eye toward 2014 and 2016. The president knows this, even though political etiquette compels him to claim, as he did in June, that after his reelection, the fever may break.

Read the whole thing here.

About the Author

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.



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"Speaker John Boehner has described the idea that carbon emissions harm the environment as 'almost comical.'"I wouldn't say this but for the Speaker's "almost comical" remark. He should think of his lungs as a miniature version of the planet's biosphere. Reportedly a heavy smoker, the Speaker's ingestion of cigarette smoke (including its carbon-based components) is doing to his lungs what carbon- and other-based pollutants are doing to our atmosphere, the oceans, and all living things that respire.

@Irene Baldwin (11/10, 3:45 pm) Thanks for the reply.Here's why I think this time will be different:1 - In 2010, during the lame duck session, Obama agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts in exchange for what was, basically, $200-400 billion in additional stimulus funds to help keep the economy from slipping back into recession.2 - In 2012, Obama has just won re-election and can't run again; and the economy seems somewhat stronger than it was two years ago.3 - Obama's in a better bargaining position. If no deal is cut before the end of this year, we all wake up in 2013 in a different country: taxes go up on everybody but do so in a progressive way (higher % increases for the wealthy), military spending is cut (while Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits are not), and thanks to the largest deficit reduction action (inaction?) in U. S. history the deficit problem is basically solved (with deficits running at 1% of GDP or less).4 - At that point, Obama can offer a different, more progressive deal: tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income, some restoration of military spending and still make progress on deficit reduction. Congressional Republicans can either accept some version of that deal or bear responsibility for raising taxes on everyone (and possibly sending the economy back into recession).5 - In his statement Friday, Pres. Obama indicated he was willing to put practically everything "on the table" for negotiation...except for restoring Clinton-era tax rates on income above $250,000.

Obama gets the Court appointments, he gets to handle Iran his way. he can cut defense spending by delaying what ever he doen't like. . He can handle immigration issues because they are mostly enforcement issues. He can watch the GOP house jump over the fiscal cliff holding hands.. and The GOP House can hold hearings until hell freezes over.

O yeah Obamacare 'is the law of the land' and cannot be amended,or stalled by the GOP for 4 years,

Most notable for the second term is the emergence after the election of serious criticism by Republicans of Russ Limbaugh. They are clearly blasting him to his face as he is crying that they are blaming him for the loss. If nothing else this a forward step for democracy, freedom and just plain decency. This is new and ever so welcome.

Big question: Will the entrenched GOP leadership continue obstructing everything Democratic?Are there no young Turks among the Republicans? Surely there must be some ambitious young uns who realize that the old GOP leaders are long past their sell dates. Aren't there any young GOP leaders besides the pseudo "leader" Ryan? Jon Huntsman was promising, but he's out in the boondocks.

There will be a deal. Obama, as the article says, is holding all the cards.As Nixon famously said, when you have them by the ****, their hearts and minds soon follow.

George: I think you meant *****.

I think Obama will renew the tax cuts for the wealthy.

@Irene Baldwin (11/10, 1:15 pm) Interesting! Why do you think that?

Luke: Because the Republicans are very insistent about it. The last time the Bush tax cuts expired, the President at first said pretty much the same thing; he would only extend the cuts for the middle class, but then, in the end, he extended them for everybody. I think he'll do that again. They may agree on closing "the loopholes" (whatever those are???), but I don't think he'll raise the rates.

The 'so called loopholes' are capping deductions on interest on mortgages and property taxes . The super rich don't have mortgages. they buy outright. the so called capping deductions will allow the super rich to laugh all the way to the Swiss/Cayman Island banks. Some say carried interest @15% is dead. But the Romney/hedge fund guys are counting on that 99.9% of the USA doesn't know what the h--- carried interest is. I asked a successful attorney from Marin County 'what about carried interest?'. He said he heard about it but was not sure what it was all about.. look it up.

Mr. Hill - excellent points; well written analysis. AgreeTo Mr. Pippenger - not sure I agree that this term will have no *big* decisions.Suggest:- if you are latino, a bi-partisan immigration deal is a BIG thing- supreme court appointees are a BIG thing- Dodd-Frank rules have yet to be written and may make *banks too big to fail* a practical historical marker- think that Simpson-Bowles will come back and be, at least, 70% implemented- any success with Iran nuclear ambitions- any success with Israeli direction and Palestinian statehood- any success with Russia on further nuclear reductions- continued and working with the Arab Spring (e.g. Syria)- further developments with China - financial, economic, trade, etc.

- global warming

-close Guantanamo.

Helen @11:07Best copyedit ever!

Who thinks the rural GOPers in Congress will go over the fiscal cliff so that millionaires making $ 250,000 a year after deductions won't have to pay a 5% increase in taxes.Anyone who makes $250,000 a year, adjusted income, and is not already a multi millionaire first needs a spiritual director and then a financial counselor. However, will we watch the GOP congresspeople charge and die on the hill so that the $250,000 a year types keep a low tax rate?. The market dropped this week because WS thinks the GOP lemmings will all jump. I.m buying stock on this drop because I don't think people are that stupid to jump over the cliff for multi-millionaires who most likely voted for Obama.

I'm with you, Ed. The Republicans might be stupid, but they're not that stupid.(OK, OK, so I was kidding.)

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