28 Nov

What if the President Isn’t Bluffing?

Bryan Preston @ PJ Tatler:

Keith Hennessey writes that in the fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama is bluffing when he threatens to veto any deal that does not include a big tax hike on the rich.

It’s a good piece, but I’m not sure that it’s right. Here’s the heart of the post.

This conventional wisdom makes three key assumptions.

  1. The President’s top economic policy priority is his fiscal policy goal (raising taxes on the rich).
  2. In a veto / no bill / blame game scenario, the President can shift most of the political blame to Republicans.
  3. He will make his veto decision on these two bases: fiscal policy and relative political blame.

Key flaw in the conventional wisdom:  The President’s veto decision is not about tax increases or political blame; it’s about causing a recession in 2013.

I make different assumptions.

  1. If there is no bill, the U.S. economy will probably dip into recession for much/most/all of 2013, and it’s impossible to predict whether such a recession would be short-lived.
  2. A 2013 recession would be terrible for the country and terrible for the Obama Presidency. It would limit the President’s options across his entire policy agenda, economic and non-economic.  And it could define and dominate his entire second term.
  3. President Obama believes #1 and #2, and therefore avoiding the risk of triggering a recession with his veto is an even higher policy priority than his fiscal policy goal.
  4. The President wants to get things done. He cares more about his own chances for policy success (across the entire breadth of his agenda, whenever he figures out what it is) than he cares about relative political blame.  A scenario in which Republicans get most of the blame for a veto-triggered recession is still a loser for him if it means he can’t accomplish his second term goals.

If my assumptions are correct, then the President cannot afford to veto a bill and have no compromise enacted.

But what if the president isn’t actually interested in getting things done? Or, to focus in a bit, what if the things the president wants to get done are not the things presidents usually want to get done?

President Obama essentially campaigned for another four years in office on the promise that he would tell us what he wants to do once he has won. He didn’t run on getting any specific things done, other than one thing: Raising taxes on the rich. That’s point one in the conventional wisdom points above. He explicitly said that he would view winning re-election as a mandate to raise taxes on the rich. Four years prior, he explicitly said that he wanted to raise taxes on the rich “for the purpose of fairness,” not because hiking those taxes would lead to more government revenue or stronger economic growth. He doesn’t care about those latter two things as much as he cares about hiking taxes on the rich. He rightly believes that much of his own base puts taxing the rich above economic growth and sound fiscal policy. They all know that hiking taxes on the rich does nothing to fix our fiscal problems. But they don’t care.

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About Curt

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 20 years.

8 Responses to What if the President Isn’t Bluffing?

  1. Nan G says: 1

    “….what if the president isn’t actually interested in getting things done? ….”

    Obama is a student/journeyman in the theories and practice of the Cloward/Pivin philosophy.
    So, collapsing our nation as it used to exist IS his goal.
    Yes, he can achieve that by doing nothing AND blame the Republicans, too.

    ReplyReply
  2. Ed Wallis says: 2

    What NanG said.

    “Success” in Obama’s eyes = America’s Failure
    According to the saying: “Recession? Total Collapse? Meh. Whatever.”

    ReplyReply
  3. D says: 3

    Making the economy worse works in Obama’s favor, he can seize more power, enact policies and issue Executive orders to deal with the ‘emergency'; he’d be able to accomplish much more of his agenda then through the normal Legislative processes.

    ReplyReply
  4. Nathan Blue says: 4

    You know, I’m more concerned about the Post-Obama era, because it’s obvious that “they” want to shatter the country using Obama, blame the Reps, completely destroy the Rep Party, then put in the next demagogue (whoever that may be).

    One Party system on the horizon: the Democratic Primary will be the ONLY election for President.

    I’m serious. I really think this might be what is transpiring.

    ReplyReply
  5. Nathan Blue
    NO ITS NOT FUNNY, I have read the same in after his election 2008,
    I believe that some people who express their thoughts
    sometimes prophetic, it might look curious to some, until they are face with the PROPHECY resolution,
    bye

    ReplyReply
  6. Mike Pickering says: 6

    NanG-
    He’s a GRAND MASTER of the Piven/Cloward strategy. Unfortunately, people either can’t, or won’t, believe it. It’s classic. And he’s a follower of the other slimeball who believed he was something more than a good for nothing- Saul Alinsky. They all have the same school of thought, destroy America. Our kids have been sent to so many colleges and universities which adhere to the same doctrines, while parents usurped responsibility for oversight of exactly what they were being indoctrinated into. I graduated from NH College in 1987 or thereabouts. At the time, I was too wrapped up in other things to realize the pablum we were being fed by “authors” like Howard Zinn. I still have the supply of material we were encouraged to read. I get almost physically ill when I look at it now.
    The war isn’t a Republican/Democrat situation. (Although because we live in the midst of it, it’s easy to lose focus. I woke up to it 12 years ago when Jesus Christ opened my eyes to the ultimate war between good and evil when I asked Him to come into my life. (Yes, really.) Many will scoff but the change was immediate, and the lines between black and white are no longer hazy grey. I encourage ALL to begin reading the Bible, starting with the Gospel of John. The Lord says you’ll find Him when you seek Him with your whole heart. It’s not too late until you draw your last breath, but PLEASE don’t wait- you never know when that will be!

    ReplyReply
  7. Mike Pickering
    that is great advice,
    thank you

    ReplyReply
  8. jlfintx says: 8

    Mike, i would second that recommendation to read Daniel and Revelation if you want to know what is on the horizen.

    ReplyReply

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