Why Obama should withdraw

Why Obama should withdraw

Steve Chapman is a Tribune columnist

Steve Chapman

September 18, 2011

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When Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, his slogan was “Morning in America.” For Barack Obama, it’s more like midnight in a coal mine.

The sputtering economy is about to stall out, unemployment is high, his jobs program may not pass, foreclosures are rampant and the poor guy can’t even sneak a cigarette.

His approval rating is at its lowest level ever. His party just lost two House elections — one in a district it had held for 88 consecutive years. He’s staked his future on the jobs bill, which most Americans don’t think would work.

The vultures are starting to circle. Former White House spokesman Bill Burton said that unless Obama can rally the Democratic base, which is disillusioned with him, “it’s going to be impossible for the president to win.” Democratic consultant James Carville had one word of advice for Obama: “Panic.”

But there is good news for the president. I checked the Constitution, and he is under no compulsion to run for re-election. He can scrap the campaign, bag the fundraising calls and never watch another Republican debate as long as he’s willing to vacate the premises by Jan. 20, 2013.

That might be the sensible thing to do. It’s hard for a president to win a second term when unemployment is painfully high. If the economy were in full rebound mode, Obama might win anyway. But it isn’t, and it may fall into a second recession — in which case voters will decide his middle name is Hoover, not Hussein. Why not leave of his own volition instead of waiting to get the ax?

It’s not as though there is much enticement to stick around. Presidents who win re-election have generally found, wrote John Fortier and Norman Ornstein in their 2007 book, “Second-Term Blues,” that “their second terms did not measure up to their first.”

Presidential encores are generally a bog of frustration, exhaustion and embarrassment. They are famous for lowest moments rather than finest hours. Richard Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace, Reagan had the Iran-Contra scandal, and Bill Clinton made the unfortunate acquaintance of Monica Lewinsky.

Administration officials get weary after four years and leave in droves. The junior varsity has to be put into service. New ideas are hard to come by.

Someone said that when a man is smitten with a beautiful woman, he should remember that somebody somewhere is tired of her. Likewise, the most inspiring presidents get stale after years of constant overexposure.

In the event he wins, Obama could find himself with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. Then he will long for the good old days of 2011. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner will bound out of bed each day eager to make his life miserable.

Besides avoiding this indignity, Obama might do his party a big favor. In hard times, voters have a powerful urge to punish incumbents. He could slake this thirst by stepping aside and taking the blame. Then someone less reviled could replace him at the top of the ticket.

The ideal candidate would be a figure of stature and ability who can’t be blamed for the economy. That person should not be a member of Congress, since it has an even lower approval rating than the president’s.

It would also help to be conspicuously associated with prosperity. Given Obama’s reputation for being too quick to compromise, a reputation for toughness would be an asset.

As it happens, there is someone at hand who fits this description: Hillary Clinton. Her husband presided over a boom, she’s been busy deposing dictators instead of destroying jobs, and she’s never been accused of being a pushover.

Not only that, Clinton is a savvy political veteran who already knows how to run for president. Oh, and a new Bloomberg poll finds her to be merely “the most popular national political figure in America today.”

If he runs for re-election, Obama may find that the only fate worse than losing is winning. But he might arrange things so it will be Clinton who has the unenviable job of reviving the economy, balancing the budget, getting out of Afghanistan and grappling with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Obama, meanwhile, will be on a Hawaiian beach, wrestling the cap off a Corona.

Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune’s editorial board and blogs at chicagotribune.com/chapman

Obama’s War on Job Creators

 Obama’s War on Job Creators

Posted By Mike Brownfield On September 19, 2011 @ 9:40 am In Entitlements | 24 Comments

Today, President Barack Obama is expected to announce his latest plan for reducing the deficit, and central to it are $1.5 trillion in new taxes [1], aimed predominantly at wealthy Americans. Unfortunately for the 14 million unemployed Americans, the President is continuing down his steady path of ushering in big spending policies, then turning to even higher taxes in order to pay for them. Who ends up paying the price? America’s job creators and those on the unemployment line.

It’s a “glut the beast” strategy [2] the President has employed before–increase spending as much as possible, and then argue that the only answer to the massive deficits is to increase taxes. Last week, the President played that philosophy to a tee when he unveiled another series of tax hikes intended to pay for more stimulus–his newly unveiled $447 billion American Jobs Act. Not surprisingly, the tax policies the President proposed were more of the same he has offered up since he first took office.

In a new paper, Heritage’s Curtis Dubay explains that the tax hikes in the President’s plan would be permanent, while his jobs policies would be temporary. And, in a senseless irony, those taxes would be levied on the very job creators whom America needs to create jobs. Dubay writes [3]:

In the Administration’s poorly crafted and contradictory jobs package, the American people get permanent tax hikes that would enlarge the federal government to offset the cost of temporary jobs policies that would not create any jobs. In the long run, the tax hikes in this plan are more likely to destroy more jobs than the jobs policies create.

Unfortunately, President Obama will not consider policies that would actually create jobs by reducing the high level of uncertainty that persists in the economy today.

Those tax policies include raising taxes on job creators by capping the deductions that families and businesses earning more than $250,000 a year could claim. And that tax increase would be on top of the 3.8 percent surtax on investment income coming in 2013 under Obamacare–not to mention the new taxes that the President is proposing today.

The President also proposed tax hikes that target the oil industry and jet manufacturers, limiting their ability to “expense” purchases of capital equipment. Though Obama frames this tax as one on owners of corporate jets, Dubay says the result will be to increase their cost, thereby reducing demand–and hurting those who manufacture the planes. Read more about the details of those tax hikes in Dubay’s paper, “Obama’s Jobs Plan: Permanent Tax Hikes on Job Creators.” [3]

On yesterday’s Fox News Sunday [4], House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained the problem with the President’s spend-more-tax-more philosophy and the road that the President is going down. “If we tax investment in job creation more, you will get less of it,” Ryan explained. “This looks like to me not a very good sign, because it looks like the President wants to move down the class warfare path.” And while the President walks America down that path, he’s marching to the beat of the big government drum that will lead to more spending, then more taxes to pay for it, and fewer jobs as a result.