President Obama is now facing a Republican-controlled Congress. So, he is now ready to go on the offensive.
Obama succeeded in getting one big program through Congress: PelosiCare. That was in his first term, when the Democrats controlled all three branches.
You could count the Dodd-Frank law (2010). This consolidated the biggest banks’ control over the banking industry.
Since then, he has gotten through nothing.
He has not pushed hard to get through anything.
Now, when he is the consummate lame duck, he is going to propose a series of programs that have no chance of passing. He is trying to salvage his reputation as a liberal. He is trying to get liberal college textbook writers — but I repeat myself — to assess him as a liberal hard-liner.
The time to be a hard-liner is when you have the votes. Franklin Roosevelt was a hard-liner. Lyndon Johnson was a hard-liner.
Obama was a soft-liner. He is now a caretaker.
When President Obama addresses the nation in the State of the Union address on Tuesday, he is likely to boast about the health of the economy, which last year created jobs at its fastest clip since 1999. But the president isn’t about to let the economy go on cruise control. Obama is also expected to announce a series of proposals aimed at reducing inequality, which has emerged as a major economic concern among American liberals.
The proposal likely to attract the most attention is Obama’s plan to raise the capital-gains tax for Americans earning $500,000 or more from 23.8 to 28 percent. In addition, the president wants to close a loophole allowing Americans to dodge paying taxes on inherited money. These two proposals—alongside a separate plan to tax companies with assets over $50 billion—are expected to raise $320 billion in revenue of the next decade. . . .
Given Republican opposition in Congress, the odds that Obama’s proposal will become law are slim. But by placing capital gains at the center of his new economic agenda, the president has signaled that wealth inequality—not just income—will now have a higher profile.
This is all for show. It is all about sounding tough. It is all about textbook legacy.
This will make the Democrat who runs in 2016 look like a “Me, Too” candidate. “Obama tried that, and he failed. I’ll try it, too.”
The politics of hope is becoming the politics of hopeless.
The politics of change is becoming the politics of stalemate.
Gridlock. Let’s hear it for gridlock.