On policy, Obama wins big by doing nothing

My colleague Tim Carney tweets out this morning: “Ross Douthat's column http://nyti.ms/ofYXAD supports my view: Obama's more about getting the right poltical frame than the right policies.” Indeed, Tim's column this morning argues: “Democrats put politics ahead of policy — again.” In the short-term, I think Douthat and Carney are right, the debt deal is a big policy loss for Obama. But if you look just a little bit down the road, Obama has set himself up for some huge policy victories as long as he wins reelection. Consider:

  • If Congress does nothing, taxes go up by $3.5 trillion on January 1st, 2013.
  • If Congress does nothing, Obamacare is implemented on schedule.
  • If Congress does nothing, defense spending is cut by around $800 billion (about $300 billion in first round of debt deal cuts, about $500 billion if Super Congress-fail trigger is pulled).

So if Obama wins reelection, a big if, he begins his second term with three huge liberal policy victories: lower defense spending, higher taxes, and an untouched entitlement state … all by doing nothing. From there he could go on to increase defense spending (above the cuts in the debt deal trigger) and cut taxes (compared to the $3.5 trillion tax hike), all while having four more years to solidify Obamacare's legitimacy.

As long as Obama strings together enough short-term political victories to get himself reelected, he will be a big policy winner come 2013.

Beltway ConfidentialPresident ObamataxesUS

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu, who took office in February, is in the process of restructuring the sprawling department. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
Report knocks city administrator for inefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

California Highway Patrol officers watch as Caltrans workers remove barricades from homeless camp sites as residents are forced to relocate from a parking lot underneath Interstate 80 on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco’s broken promise to resolve homeless encampments

‘There is an idea that The City is leading with services, and they are not’

Most Read