For the first time since his election, President Obama is showing signs of compromise on conservative means of economic stimulus as well as his ambitious agenda of "fundamental change."
Despite the worst decline in the stock market in the first 50 days of a new presidency, Barack Obama had been exhibit A echoing Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton's crisis as opportunity mantra in pursuing longtime Democratic Party domestic legislative goals in energy, education and health care; rather than focusing on the worsening recession and banking and credit crises he inherited.
Until Thursday, we were told that the "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" (Harvard must not cover the double digit inflation, interest rate, and unemployment of the early 80s in their required curricula.)required that we borrow more money in the next four years than we have since the founding and that we fundamentally change America by growing government large enough to usurp the free market as the director of the nation's economy. We were told that "only government" spending $3.4 trillion dollars or more could save us.
It appeared that Obama was in a hurry to use the economic crisis to advance every liberal dream (whether from his father or not) of the past 40 years; but seemed laissez faire with respect to the current crisis. But yesterday we were told that the crisis is "not as bad as we think".
It now appears that some of the grown-ups around a President that recently dismissed the ups and downs of Wall Street, the downs of which have wiped out much of the savings of most Americans, have finally gotten his ear. The body of free market capitalism champion as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers (pictured) had seemed to have been occupied by the ghost of Carter past until he went on a confidence tour this week.
But the most hopeful sign of change we have seen since the Inauguration of Barack HopeChange Obama, came from the lips of the Messiah himself:
President Barack Obama says he is willing to cut a deal with corporate America, telling business leaders he’d consider cutting the corporate tax rate if they cooperate with his overall agenda.
“Obama said he would be willing to consider lowering the 35 percent corporate tax rate as he closes other business-tax loopholes,” The Journal reported.
Also at the meeting on Thursday, one Business Roundtable member questioned Obama on his proposal to cap carbon emissions, and he suggested he could compromise on his plan to combat global warming.
At first blush, the first quote may seem insignificant or quite troubling to conservatives given that even a total elimination of the corporate tax (much less a mere 5% cut) would be a poor trade off for Obama's energy and health care agenda.
But when coupled with the second suggestion of compromise on the religious tenets of global warming and other recent events, I see opportunities for conservatives and a crisis they must not let go waste.
For the last several weeks, Republican opposition to Obama's agenda has galvanized. More importantly, many democrats (and not just Southerners and Blue Dogs) have expressed alarm over the President's inaction on the banking crisis and proposed actions that would raise gasoline and coal prices. Democrats in the Midwest have come out against his war on the coal industry and in favor of corporate tax cuts as well as an end to the mark-to-market accounting rule.
But one might be surprised to see cracks in Obama's until now impregnable positions on his Big Government agenda and war on capitalists given uptick in the stock market this week. But one shouldn't be surprised if one understands the kind of crisis that truly concentrates the Obama mind:
Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.
Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.
A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration's policies and their impact on peoples' lives.
I expected that the economic crisis would eventually force Obama to turn to supply side stimulus given my expectation that we were in for a long recession even if the administration had acted decisively on the banking crisis. The gargantuan incompetence on Obama has accelerated the time table.
It turns out that even with near filibuster proof majorities in Congress, the Democrats can't act fast enough to fundamentally change America. Thanks to the Founding Fathers for a system that frustrates would be Kings. Thanks also to the center-right majority of Americans, many of whom are democrats, that House members must face every two years. Thanks finally to the fact that many liberal commentators in the media aren't so rich that they will abide even a popular Democrat President that ignores the drop in value of their 401ks.
One moment last week galvanized my optimism that Obama had overreached and would have his agenda interrupted. It was when he answered a question about the plight of the currently unemployed with a pitch that his health care plan would provide coverage in two years.
That's right, Mr. Unemployed. Apply for unemployment compensation for 26-52 weeks. Get medicaid under the new law. Get on his new un-reformed welfare after that and in 52 more weeks we will change the name on your Medicaid card to ObamaCare. Want a job? Why? We still have the wealth of others to spread to you.
It appears that while Obama dreams of an America fundamentally changed, his ears are picking up the voices of Americans that haven't thru the vehicle most fundamental in shaping the hopes of and changes sought by most nationally elected Democratic politicians: popularity polls.
The GOP must be careful not to give in to Obama's first baby steps away from his agenda. They must not let weak Big Business CEOs seeking corporate welfare cause them to sell out the rest of America in the Carbon War on American prosperity. Bide your time. Obama is hearing from coal country Democrats in flyover country that don't take the subway to work.
Who knows, after Obama's agenda is broken, we could make him a successful president.
"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson
Originally published by Mike DeVine, Legal Editor for The Minority Report