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What Obama Must Do to Retain the Key to the White House in 2012

Updated on August 29, 2011

With the 2012 presidential election barely 14 months away, the US economy still inexplicably wobbly and the Republican primaries heating up, ideas are percolating regarding what President Obama must do to escape the specter of the one-term presidency.

Some have proffered, and rightfully so perhaps, that the election will unavoidably be an intensely contested verdict over two diametrically opposed approaches to governance.

With the GOP’s traditional dominance over foreign policy and national defense matters effectively neutralized by President Obama’s stellar showing abroad thus far, Republicans have understandably pivoted to the domestic arena hopeful that if they could successfully hang the sluggish economy on Obama, it could in fact be the albatross that would sink Democrats and guarantee control of the White House.

On domestic economic policy, the GOP’s position seems abundantly clear. But for the occasional forays into the idiotic and penchant for hype, the current line-up of would be Republican nominees have the same core ideological bent.

Broadly speaking, they are firmly in support of the shrinking of public expenditures (smaller government); hence the plethora of cost-cutting initiatives against a wide range of federal programs including Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. They have a shared aversion for the Health Care Reform Act (the so-called “Obamacare”) and are fitfully sworn to defunding or totally rolling it back!

Republicans for a while presented as if they were equally unyielding in their commitment to cutting taxes and dampening revenues. But we are now finding out with their new position on the payroll tax holiday proposal for working class Americans currently before Congress that they believe tax cuts should be the preserve of the rich.

Despite the foregoing instance of, shall we say, mindless flip-flopping, an uncompromising posture on taxes has become a rapidly calcifying staple of modern day conservative politics. Having signed the anti-tax pledge promulgated by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, most Republican politicians today seem invariably bound by that pledge’s requirement that any increase in revenue must be offset with a corresponding tax cut somewhere.

Beyond the fact that one would be truly hard-pressed to find reputable economists that can demonstrate how the foregoing cocktail actually translates into the sort of rapid, sustained economic growth that everyone is clamoring for, one obvious problem with the GOP’s line of reasoning is that far from being novel, some of what they are prescribing did in actuality create or exacerbate the catastrophe once underway.

But I think the American people are slowly catching on to the Republican rope-a-dope! We remember that before the 2010 mid-term, they all hitched their trucks and traversed every cranny of the land, hosting town hall meetings after town hall meetings and chanting the old mantra: jobs, jobs, jobs!

We, of course, bought it wholesale and voted them into office en bloc. They took over the House of Representatives but we never witnessed the job windfall they promised. In fact, they are yet to pass a single job-generating legislation.

Today, thanks to their clever switcheroo, it’s all about deficit control. The new mantra? Cuts, cuts, cuts; but certainly of the wrong hue. And interestingly, there seems to be a town hall meeting drought this season; if anything, GOP lawmakers are doing their damndest to escape the wrath of angry constituents besieging their district offices demanding some answers.

This is why I do believe that the biggest challenge to President Obama’s re-election isn’t the GOP. They have absolutely nothing to run on this go around; it’s all a mirage that, many now realize, rings hollow!

Obama will ultimately win or lose the 2012 presidential election to the degree he’s successful trumpeting and contrasting his accomplishments against the GOP’s ever-shifting mirror of promises. Exposing the Republican con game is inescapably critical to retaining the key to the White House.

Regarding his administration’s accomplishments, there’s little doubt that, even amidst daunting opposition, they have been quite impressive.

On foreign policy, the following demand unquestioning mention: the spectacular capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, restoration of a multilateral approach to global problem-solving and the elimination of blustering jingoism and unilateralism, and the withdrawal of American troops and termination of US combat mission in Iraq.

President Obama also deserves some credit for the tumultuous events presently playing out in the Middle East; the so-called “Arab Spring.” GOP Leaders derided him when at the beginning of his term, in a speech from Cairo, Egypt, targeting the Muslim World, he appealed for increasing democratization in the entire region. Much as this could not be cited as an immediate cause for this revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests, it unarguably demonstrates matchless foresight and leadership.

And on the conflict in Libya and demise of Muammar Gaddafi, which ordinarily, given the US’ long-running enmity with Gaddafi, should be a celebrated foreign policy achievement, it ought be highlighted that when Obama committed US military resources last March to protect innocent civilian protesters Republicans dismissed it as plainly being “too little, too late.” Some even ridiculed his support for the NATO effort that would follow as an indication of weakness on his part; reportedly accusing him of “leading from behind!”

On national affairs, we again recall many programmatic initiatives that continue to impact the lives of millions of ordinary Americans in real, direct and immediate ways---the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (which expanded the rights of workers to sue employers over wage discrimination claims); the SCHIP--- State Children's Health Insurance Program---expansion Bill of 2009 (which extended coverage to 4 million more lower-income children); the Credit Card Reform Bill of 2009 (which instituted the most sweeping changes the industry had seen in 40 years by adding restrictions on interest rate increases and fees and restricting the marketing of credit cards to college students); the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act of 2009 (which, for the first time, gave the U.S. Food & Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco); the Health Care and Educational Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (which among other things, prevents insurance companies from cutting someone off when he or she gets sick or denying coverage to a person because of pre-existing conditions, extends the cut-off age for young adults to continue to be covered by their parents' health insurance to age 27, eliminated lifetime caps on the amount of insurance an individual can have, grants seniors a rebate to fill the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare drug coverage and allows tax credits of up to 50% of employee premiums to businesses with fewer than 50 employees); the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (that sought to infuse accountability and transparency into the financial system, to end "too big to fail," protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, and protect consumers from abusive financial services practices).

Granted that stocks are currently suffering the fallouts from the protracted debt-ceiling increase debacle, it must be remembered that the Dow Jones had dropped to a little more than 6,000 points at the height of the economic meltdown; compared to nearly 12,000 points today.

Regarding job-creation, although the progress of the last several months have slowed considerably, it is important to remember that the bailout program which Obama pushed through Congress despite stiff Republican opposition, did in fact save both the automotive industry and the entire financial sector of the economy and, consequently, anywhere between three to five million jobs. Today, not only have the companies that benefited from this program returned all borrowed monies with interest, most successfully emerged from insolvency and even posted record profits!

Nonetheless, it still would simply not be enough for Obama to outline these victories. He has to find a way to speak to them in a context that enables him to explain why he negotiated away core Democratic values in his dealings with GOP Congressional Leaders. Failing to do so could seriously undercut crucial support from both his base and independent voters.


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    • vrajavala profile image


      6 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      Obama's stellar history in foreign policy!!!

      What a joke!!!

      Oh, you Mean bowing down to foreign leaders, letting tje Chinese walk all over us on trade, starting an unorovoked was agaist Libya.

      Why din't you ask Minister Farrakhan what he thinks of the murderer in the Oval Office?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      "Free Tax Settlement" or "IRS Settlement" can work to make sure your payments are applied to your tax debt, and limit the interest and penalties you end up paying. Lowering the principle will also lower the interest and penalties.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      jo miller, Obama has enough supporters in the media. It'd be great if some of those supporters peeked into how he paid for his Chicago house, how he got huge book advances when he had virtually nothing to say, why he has not released his law school transcripts, why he eats hamburgers as his wife tells all of us to eat vegetables, why he voted 'present' so many times, why he has not rolled back the Patriot Act as he promised to do throughout his campaign, why Gitmo is still open, why he prevaricates about the rich not paying their fair share... whew. I'm tired.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      Bravo!! I hope to hear more from you in the coming months. Obama supporters need to begin speaking out, and you did a great job here. Some people will not hear, but some may. Thanks.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      What you point out is true but that prohibition was instituted by the LBJ Adminstration and Congress in order that the government might have access to the funds for borrowing. I agree that both parties are responsible but I am damn mad that we are now at a point where the system is all but broke and our officials want to assign welfare labels to it and flush it in the name of all that is holy...that's a cop out. The current guys may not be at fault but no one is willing to take any action to stem the bleeding. WB

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "America is coming to understand how slime-ball politicians since the era of LBJ have raide trust funds such as Social Security"

      Wayne, let's be fair. The Social Security system is prohibited, by law, to run a surplus. The feds are required to issue bonds and buy the bonds from themselves using any excess Social Security 'revenue.' There has never been a lock box and will never be a lock box. Both parties are responsible.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      You have rambled through all of this decrying the shortcomings of the conservative position without once justing the case for "big government". Just because government gets bigger, it does not get better, it just costs more to operate. Obama has managed to grow it by a factor about 17% in less than three years appointing government czars with six figure salaries and large staffs of workers all withou the least thought as to costs. Common sense tells us that a reduction in spending is in order when the national debt has grown by a factor of five trillion dollars in three years of the Obama Administration. Food Stamp assistance is up by a factor 75%. The EPA's budget has increased by 125%. The list goes on and on and the idea has one focus...spend, spend, spend. Oh America is wising up all right but not nearly in the way you might think. America is coming to terms with the point that there is no basis to increase taxes and revenue streams if there is no fiscal responsiblity within our federal government. America is rapidly coming to the point of understanding why we need a balanced budget at the federal level. America is coming to understand how slime-ball politicians since the era of LBJ have raide trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare and now want to whine that "entitlements" are sinking America financially. The conservative side of the aisle is not about getting rid of Social Security and's about getting the governments fingers off the money and putting it where it was suppose to be in the first trust. Instead we have a box full of worthless IOU's from the federal government. Social Security and Medicare took in 70 billion more dollars in 2010 than it paid out. That surplus under presen laws enacted by the LBJ crowd for the "Great Society" cannot be must be spent so the money is thrown into the general fund and spent in discretionary or "elective" spending. The deficit gets no smaller and neither does the national debt. But, hey, lets see if we can find a new way ;to tax people so that we can get more tax money in here so that we can spend more with no reference to cutting the deficit or reducing the debt. This is not a solution to anything, it is abject stupidity in its finest form and America can no longer afford regardless of which side of the aisle is sitting in the White House. Many, many Americans are waking up to that thanks to the actions of a super democratic majority which dominated both houses of Congress for two years and the socialistic principles of fundamental transformation displayed by this President. Those elected in the 2010 mid-terms did go to Washington with a mission to gain control of the outrageous spending. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to accomplish that task only controlling the majority vote in one chamber of the Congress. At the same time, those of the old guard right who basically also want to continue to spend, turned their backs on this handful of folks who were attempting to bring some common sense to America's lack of fiscal restraint. America better pray this is a one-term president in office for it will never survive the disaster of two terms under his reign. WB

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I'm sorry, I couldn't get past the first sentence.

      "inexplicably wobbly??"


      See, business won't hire or expand when faced with uncertainty. The current administration provides buckets of it.

      Will the Bush tax cuts expire?

      Will the 'rich' be taxed into extinction?

      Will ObamaCare actually become law?

      Will Quantitative Easing be scheduled every Friday?

      Will Congress, abetted by perennially wobbly John Boehner, participate in yet another smoke and mirrors debt ceiling debate?

      Will Michelle hen peck her hubby into giving up hamburgers and fried butter?


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