America’s Elections: Almost One Month Later

America’s Elections: Almost One Month Later

Mr. Obama Gets Another Shot at Hope and Change

The following column about America's elections was recently published in the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Gráfica. It was written the day after the election when Real Politik was feeling particularly bullish about the possibility of a Grand Bargain between Democrats and Republicans on deficit reduction and entitlement reform.

Real Politik is happy to report that nearly one month later the contents of this column appear to have stood the test of time.

Since the election, high-profile Republicans - including House Majority Leader, John Boehner - have indicated willingness to raise new revenues as part of a deal on long-term entitlement reform. More recently, numerous GOP representatives - including Saxby Chambliss (Sen. GA), Lindsey Graham (Sen. SC), Peter King (Rep. NY) and and Bob Corker (Sen. TN) - have gone on the record saying they would break their hitherto sacrosanct anti-tax pledges made to Grover Norquist's lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform.

Ironically, it is now the Democrats who have been talking tough about compromise on entitlement reform. While it is true that a Grand Bargain could fall apart if Democrats remain intransigent, Real Politik believes that the Party and the President will rise to the occasion.

Of course, this sunny outcome is not guaranteed. The Fiscal Cliff is fast approaching and it is possible that the following column will read as well in January as it does three weeks removed from its original draft. Hope you enjoy.

America's Elections Offer Hope for the Future

The outcome of our presidential and congressional elections will not magically erase the challenges facing America over the next four years. However, the results were a major step in the right direction for our country and offer a sense of optimism that has been lacking as of late.

President Obama earned victory by running a decidedly populist campaign focused on raising tax rates on the wealthy to Clinton-era levels and celebrating government-led interventions to save America’s financial system and auto industry.

Despite predictions of a neck-and-neck race, and concerns about weeklong recounts in Ohio and Florida, the electoral map looked strikingly similar to the last general election. Only two states that supported President Obama in 2008 - North Carolina and Indiana - switched to the Republican column in 2012 and Mr. Obama again won the popular vote.

Mr. Obama’s victory will not usher in a new progressive era in American politics, but his win proves that Americans largely prefer his moderate vision for the balance of the public and private sectors to the GOP’s anti-government crusade.

Aside from Mr. Obama, the other big winner in Tuesday’s elections was House Majority Leader John Boehner. Mr. Boehner is a moderate at heart and was stonewalled by Tea Party freshmen when he tried to reach a Grand Bargain on reforming entitlements and reducing the deficit with Mr. Obama in 2011. The results of last Tuesday’s election were a decisive blow for Tea Party ideology and should provide Mr. Boehner with the flexibility he needs to come to the bargaining table and seal the deal.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner’s main challenge will be to strike a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in January.  They have a mandate from the American people to come up with a balanced solution that includes new tax revenue (primarily from the wealthy), spending cuts and a responsible approach to reforming our entitlement system – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – without falling into an “austerity trap” like many European nations.

A Grand Bargain would represent a game changer for American politics that will put our economy and social safety net on sound footing for generations. With one stroke of the pen these two men have the opportunity to restore investor confidence in America and demonstrate to the world that the last four years of dysfunction and bickering - symbolized by the debt ceiling debacle of 2011 - are behind us. A Grand Bargain would also prove that America's two great political parties can come together for the betterment of the nation instead of engaging in counterproductive partisan warfare.

Thanks to Tuesday’s election these possibilities are closer to becoming realities and America’s future is looking better than it has in a very long time.
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  • You are right. The Republicans will provide the president with the tax increases on the "rich", and will generally become the Democrat-Lite Party. Obama, for his part, will not compromise: taxes will continue to increase throughout his second term, government regulation will as well, along with increasing intrusion (which, let's face it, the majority of the US population wants and likes) in private lives, especially under the guise of health care, will accelerate.

    We will get the nation people want: cradle to grave care and a government directed by the "rule of men" vs the rule of law, because, necessarily, under a "populist" shroud, every act large and small becomes political, and for "the good of the people" things are done or not done.

    I have long maintained that their should be a Constitutional Convention, because if the population understands the type of government it is living under, it will ease tensions.

    Those who think we live in a Democratic Republic are now always going to be upset, because there is no adherence to the original Constitution; and those who want a more collectivist model will always be insisting on more change to that model, whether or not it agrees with what is supposed to be the law of the land. In other words, one does not visit Bangkok and think they are in a democracy, so you adapt or leave.

    The real trick is to fulfill the utopian promises, or at least, three years from now, keep telling the big lie that all is well, and telling it often enough, so the electorate that wants more from Uncle Sam will continue to vote "populist". Shame is, as anybody who can add will tell a person, that to take all the revenue from all the "rich" will not run the country for more than a few days. Math also tells a person that this course is not sustainable, and that there will be a national default.

    Happy days are here again, whilst they last.

    T

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