The Old Razzle Dazzle
By Jerome Grossman
If President Barack Obama rescues America, and indeed the entire world, from the ravages of recession/depression, the gratitude of the populace will be boundless. His party will sweep the congressional elections of 2010; his reelection in 2012 will be by acclamation.
If Obama's stimulus plan fails and the economy sinks into depression, he will bear the blame, and he and his party will be swept from power. Obama says the stimulus “serves two functions-creating jobs and stimulating the economy in the short term and laying the groundwork for overhauls in energy, health care and infrastructure that would be felt for decades.”
But some Democrats say that his package could end up missing both targets. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that the stimulus bill "could prove less than the quick jolt that President Obama is seeking," because of necessary delays in spending on longer projects.
To protect his political flank in 20i0 and 2012, Obama has catered to the policies of the Republicans, so that 40% of the entire package is composed of tax cuts. Vice President Joe Biden said "That's not what the Democrats wanted." But they accepted the Republican tax proposals to get their support and votes for the package. Then, in case of failure, Republicans could not attack politically in 2010 and 2012 because the bill included their own tax cut wish list.
However, after receiving the tax concessions, the GOP failed to deliver their votes. From being dispirited after losing the White House and the Congress, they now have a strategy: to blame Obama if the economy fails to rally, to blame Obama for the waste of trillions, to blame Obama for the anticipated inflation.
Today, Obama is in a very strong position. Virtually the entire country wants him to succeed. Guarding against possible failure, he wanted both parties on the same hook, the stimulus bill. In remarkable and unprecedented gestures of bipartisanship, he praised Ronald Reagan, met with GOP officials, dined with conservative pundits, solicited their advice and ideas, appointed Republicans to his Cabinet and policymaking positions, to name only a few outreaches. Obama made all those compromises for nothing.
So far, Obama has failed to achieve the desired cooperation or the bipartisan cover for his stimulus bill. The Republicans now have a political strategy for future elections. Unfortunately, it seems to be based on Obama’s future failure and the continuation of our economic troubles. Let us hope they are wrong in their use of the old razzle dazzle style of politics.