The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein has unearthed President Obama’s secret second term agenda. And it should scare the pants off anyone who doesn’t want the U.S. economy to tank this coming January. Klein writes:
I’ve criticized the Obama campaign for failing to detail much of a vision for a second term. But that’s not to say they don’t have one. They do. It’s just a hard one to campaign on.
After promising in 2008 to bring about a new era of cooperation in Washington, they’re campaigning in 2012 knowing that, if reelected, they will start their second term with a brutal, economy-shaking showdown with Republicans over spending and taxes.
If the Obama administration were to really lay out their plans, they would go something like this. In November, President Obama will reiterate, clearly and firmly, that he will veto any attempts to extend the high-income tax cuts or lift the big, dumb spending cuts without finding equivalent savings elsewhere.
That veto threat is the center of the Obama administration’s second-term strategizing. The Obama administration believes – and, just as importantly, they believe Republicans believe — that they’ve got the leverage here. … I’ve called this the GOP’s dual-trigger nightmare. It’s bad for the economy, but it also effectively ends our deficits with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts more progressive than anything any Democrat has dared propose. Republicans absolutely can’t let it happen. But the only way they can stop it from happening is to make a deal.
Obama and Klein are dead wrong: Republicans absolutely can let the fiscal cliff happen. Obama signed every law (either the original legislation or an extension of it), that has created the $500 billion tax hike/$100 billion spending cut fiscal cliff. It’s his economic disaster. He owns it. Why wouldn’t Republicans just love to make him sleep in the bed he made?
More importantly though, when you read Bob Woordward’s excellent new book, The Price of Politics, you can’t help but notice a common theme running through everyone of Obama’s failures.
On the stimulus, Obama was certain he could get at least one Republican vote. He failed.
On Obamacare, Obama was certain he could get at least one Republican vote. He failed.
On the debt limit debate, Obama was certain he could strike a deal with House Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, that raised taxes. He failed.
In the middle of the debt limit debate, Woodwards reports:
“If the goal is to solve the problem,” Obama said, “I don’t understand why we don’t seize the opportunity. It would not violate either party’s positions. Revenues wouldn’t come from a vote. I understand this pledge that all these Republicans have taken.”
The Republicans thought he really didn’t understand at all. The scheme to decouple the middle- and lower-income tax brackets from the higher brackets was a transparent gimmick.
At every turn in his presidency, Obama believes he understands Republicans and can bully them into submission. And at every turn he has underestimated Republican resolve.
If Obama wins reelection he will no doubt try to govern in his second term the exact same way he tried to govern in his first. And he will get the exact same results. In other words, if Obama wins reelection, we are definitely going over the fiscal cliff.