Barack Obama ran a carefully orchestrated 2012 re-election campaign. For any one who bothered to read or to listen carefully, however, Obama had remarkably little to say on what he would do during his second term, should he be re-elected.
So it comes as no surprise to discover that Obama has only one policy initiative – immigration reform – that stands even a remote chance of passing into law, unless the House of Representatives falls into Democratic Party hands in November 2014. The optimism about immigration reform stems not from any leadership from Obama, but from concern within the Republican Party about losing Hispanic voters, many of whom should find a natural position within the GOP.
After winning a marginal tax rate increase on individuals earning in excess of $400,000 per annum, Obama’s economic policies are in disarray. The sequester, that he had signed into law was allowed to take place, so far with minimal harm to the economy. His attempt to use his presidential powers to impose maximum harm on U.S.citizens – a strange presidential tactic do you not think – failed when a vote-conscious Congress moved to protect the flying public and Obama had to confirm their intervention. He has no chance whatsoever of imposing any additional taxes on Americans – rich or poor – unless he accepts major tax reforms designed to bring down rates while eliminating exemptions. And that he will not do.
His ineffectual attempt to tighten gun laws, even following the gift-horse of the Newtown massacre, has ended in ignominious defeat in no small part at the hands of Democratic members of the Senate. That policy will not be revived certainly prior to 2015.
His parody of a foreign policy is collapsing before his eyes as Bashar Al-Assad openly flaunts the use of chemical weapons jeering at Obama’s non-existent red-line. His shift of emphasis away from the Middle East to Asia is stymied as long as the Syrian civil war results in cataclysmic death rates and as al-Qaeda watches hopefully for chemical and biological weapons’ pickings from the disintegration of what once could be called a country.
Sadly for the United States, President Obama looks increasingly like a man in an empty suit, bereft of ideas, unwilling to take time out from fund-raising to do the heavy lifting of policy formation is a divided government. The President, in short, has decided to coast through his second term.
Bring on the clowns!
Hat Tip: Edward Luce, ‘All Obama’s manoeuvres lead back to impasse’, Financial Times, April 29, 2013