On this, the second anniversary of his inauguration, President Obama is clearly showing a determination to change his image, replacing his hard left dogmatism with a seeming flexibility and openness to the views of the center. Will it work? Will it lead to his re-election? Are we only one-quarter of the way through a two term Obama presidency?
If the Republican Party wimp out and embraces a moderate agenda, trying to meet him in the middle, Obama will succeed and will be with us for six more years. But if the GOP defines itself in stark contrasts and pushes conservative policies, we will beat him. The key is to test Obama’s centrism by confronting him with bold demands to rollback health reform, undo his massive spending, deregulate community banks, enable state bankruptcies, and block pending executive orders to impose carbon taxes, card check unionization, and FCC regulation of talk radio and the Internet.
We have got to make the gentile and lulling waves of Obama’s new-found moderation crash up against the rocks of Republican demands. Then the leftist rib tide that lurks underneath the seemingly calm waters will be exposed and, in the ensuing surf, he will flounder.
Obama’s moderation is only tone deep. Its hallmarks have been the Daily appointment, his Tucson speech, his sham efforts at deregulation, and his forced acceptance of the Bush tax cuts. Now let’s see what he does with health care repeal, spending cuts, and the rest of the Republican agenda.
The Republican Study Committee proposal calling for $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over ten years is a great place to start. The GOP should take the key elements of it and tack them on to the debt limit increase bill and demand that Obama either sign the bill with the cuts or get no rise in the debt limit. As Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa) suggested in a recent op-ed, the government can function without borrowing more for a few months. And during that time, let all of America debate whether or not to cut the budget. Let Obama be on display – day after day – pleading for more spending and borrowing. What will become of his centrism then?
The Study Committee proposal is especially brilliant in its avoidance of any cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Republicans squandered their momentum from Bush’s re-election in 2005 by pushing Social Security reform and won in 2010 by fighting Medicare cuts. To cut or “reform” either program right now would be a disaster. But when it comes to EPA, the Department of Education, Amtrak, the federal workforce, highway construction, public works, stimulus spending, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other non-defense discretionary spending – cut away!
The key to winning the election of 2012 is to force Obama to defend his agenda of 2009-2010 by demanding its repeal and rollback. Republicans need to make him spend 2011 and 2012 defending the programs that brought him down in 2010. And we must also enact budget riders blocking his attempts to jam through by executive orders (even as he postures about cutting federal regulation) carbon taxation, FCC regulation of talk radio, and card check unionization. These issues are all winners.
Obama hopes we forget his past liberalism. After all, in 1996, who remembered Hillarycare? Who voted against Clinton because of his 1993 tax hikes? Nobody. So we need to force these issues to the fore again in 2011 and 2012. We must make Obama run on his record of 2009-2010 by demanding its repeal and forcing him to fight again the same battles that cost him the House in 2010. That is the path to victory.