The surest sign that a Democrat serving as President of the United States is heading for the center of the American political spectrum is when he plays the foreign policy card. And President Obama has clearly signaled his intention to govern from the foreign policy center since taking office. The troop surge in Afghanistan, and the renewed relationships with India and Pakistan that enable much more aggressive anti-terrorist activity in that part of the world, both signal that this Commander-in-Chief is very much taking the fight to those who would do harm to our homeland. Even the recent nuclear arms agreement with the Russians signals that this President intends to exploit the Presidential advantage in foreign policy.
On the domestic front, President Obama has nowhere more clearly headed for the political center than he has in his recent action to allow off-shore drilling along our coastlines. The fact that he has displeased some on both ends of the political spectrum in taking this action — environmentalists think he went too far and the “drill, baby, drill” crowd thinks he didn’t go far enough — is a recent example of his “getting it right,” non-ideological approach to governance.
But this is not a recent phenomenon. The Recovery Act included tax cuts for individuals and small business. Health reform featured subsidies for individuals and small businesses, as well as a role for the States in implementing the new health care laws. Recent “jobs bills” also featured incentives targeted to small business, including tax cuts for hiring the unemployed.
Last year, the President called for a spending freeze on discretionary federal spending, and the Congress approved the pay-go rules that were key to bringing the budget into balance during the Clinton administration. With pay-go rules in place, spending increases passed by the Congress need to be offset by spending reductions or tax increases. Once the economy picks up, watch for the President to flex his fiscal responsibility muscles and begin to enforce pay-go rules aggressively.