Well here we are looking at the prospects of a 1994 replay wherein the Democrats lose one or even both houses of Congress. Could it happen? Maybe. Smart money says the House of Representatives is more vulnerable than the Senate for the Democrats. The good news for President Obama is that 1994 was the best thing that happened to Bill Clinton along the way to a second term. During 1993 and 1994, the Democrats controlled Congress and gave President Clinton almost nothing in terms of legislation. During that two year period, the Democratic Congress shut down Clinton on health care and virtually all of his legislative agenda. The only exception was the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that was passed by Congress in February 1993.
Once the Republicans won back the Congress in 1994, President Clinton brandished his veto pen and looked increasingly presidential standing up to the Republican congressional leadership. Clinton was also able to quite easily co-opt some important Republican/Conservative issues such as Welfare Reform, and used Republican support for lean federal budgets to move toward the budget surpluses that he left for President Bush to squander.
President Obama should now consider seriously a clear, unambiguous move toward the center — prior to the mid-term Congressional elections — by moving quickly to embrace a 3-year extension of the Bush tax cuts. This would defer the question of whether to extend the tax cuts further until after the 2012 Presidential election. The benefits for the President and his party would be two-fold. First, if done strongly and unabashedly, supporting an extension of the Bush tax cuts would take the issue away from the Republicans in the upcoming mid-term Congressional elections. Second, tax cuts would add much needed stimulus to an economy that is clearly struggling through this summer and seems to need some additional stimulus to keep economic growth going. And this at a time when the party of “NO” seems unlikely to do anything that would help the economy recover. It might even make sense for President Obama to raise the ante and add job creating tax incentives for small business as part of his proposal.
By proposing tax cuts now, the President would leave Republicans in Congress with the difficult choice of either supporting tax cuts that would help the economy grow — or take the uncomfortable position of opposing the very tax cuts that are so much a part of the modern day conservative rant.
The reality we face is that the federal budget is seriously out of balance — short-term and long-term. And this at a time when it is unlikely that either party will have the stomach for enough in the way of additional taxes or spending cuts to ever get the federal budget under control. The only remedy for Federal deficits has been, and will likely always be, economic growth and the increasing revenues that good, strong growth brings.
President Obama needs to re-frame the political discussion now — move swiftly to support a 3-year extension of the Bush tax cuts — and expose the Republicans for the dangerous, traitorous slime they have become.