Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jekyll and Hyde

The prominent New York Times columnist David Brooks has been uncharacteristically critical of Barack Obama’s handling of the raging budget debate in Washington.  Although Brooks is a self-described Hamiltonian and moderate Republican, he has been a relatively consistent Obama fan since he took office in 2008. His most recent column entitled “The White House Argument” lays out the Obama’s administrations points supporting its budget proposal, and also concludes with Brooks making the statement that “If he [Obama] doesn’t have a passion for fiscal stability, he’ll campaign on side issues and try to win by scaring everybody about the other side.”  This column made me think about where Obama truly stands on fiscal and budgetary issues. 

President Obama has been somewhat of a “Jekyll and Hyde” when it comes to fixing the long term structural deficit.  He creates the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, but then fails to adopt the bi-partisan supported reforms proposed by the commission that Obama himself created. Obama’s rhetoric consistently includes bringing the United States on sound fiscal footing; however his actions never seem to reflect his words.  In the past four years of his administration, we have still not seen a realistic long term deficit brought to serious debate in either the house or senate. Why has Obama’s rhetoric not lined up with his legislative priorities? I am a believer that this is part of Obama’s grander political strategy that will span into his prospective second term. He did not have the political slack with his base to really take a hard line with deficit issues. However, I feel that if Obama does win in 2012, then we will see a President that is much more of a true centrist democrat.  His legislative leadership will finally line up with his rhetoric, and this will hopefully end the gridlock that is plaguing the current debate on our debt and deficit issues.


  1. Obama's failure to follow through on his words has been one of my greatest frustrations with him as a President. Is it fair that a President fail to fulfill his promises due to political maneuvering? I agree that he has not done a lot in the name of seeking a second term, however should this second term fail to come, what then? People will wonder if he could have done more. I know I most certainly will. Perhaps it is just the fate of American politics that doing what you promise and what is in the best interest of the country must take a back seat to reelection.

  2. Progress. Change. Hope. All three words were pillars of Obama’s campaign when he initially sought presidential election. In my opinion, one of his biggest promises to help reduce our nation’s budget deficit was his pledge to reverse the Bush tax cuts for America’s wealthiest. To put it generously, that can still be labeled as “in progress.” However, not much headway has been made as our deficit continues to climb to unsustainable measures. In his defense, President Obama has been pushing health care reform that could insure more Americans, provide a range of insurance options accessible through exchange, and end insurance company abuses. Yet, all progress has been stalled as he failed to secure his super majority in the Senate, the epitome of our country’s gridlock. That does bring into question if Obama will be any more successful should he win re-election. If the republicans were to secure both chambers in upcoming elections, would Obama become a de facto lame duck president? If so, gridlock will ultimately prevail at the expense of our country.