Obama 2012: The GOP’s Best Friend?

“…Tonight, I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new speaker, John Boehner” (Obama, 2011). This was how Barack Obama began his 2011 State of the Union address, before he turned to offer applause to the Republican Speaker of the House. This honor of Boehner was important, because the Democrats had spent months trying to vilify Boehner. Is Obama repudiating his own party? Is he stabbing them in the back? Or by moving to the center, is he actually trying to do the right thing hoping it will help him get reelected in 2012? Obama’s reelection strategy could end up being the best thing that he could do for the Republican Party; if the GOP is wise enough to take advantage of it.

During his campaign and the first half of Obama’s first term, some saw Obama as a far-left ideologue, promoting state control of private enterprise (General Motors), appointing Supreme Court Justices who were thought to have either have no respect for the Constitution (Sotomayor, who had opinions overturned by the Supreme Court numerous times) or felt that he appointed justices that the public viewed as falling on the far-left of the American political spectrum (Kagan and Sotomayor). Obama also promoted the ill-fated “Cap and Trade”, an environmental bill designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions that was thought to be bad for business and here in Kentucky, bad for the coal industry, which is a political heavyweight in addition to being a major employer and revenue source locally. While Obama in his first term promoted the spending of billions of dollars in stimulus funds, claiming he was boosting employment through measures such as the temporary jobs in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as the 2010 US Census, he has now appeared to change his angle to better resemble the stance of the opponent he beat to win the Presidency, John McCain.

McCain was no Tea Partier; certainly McCain’s politics in the 2008 campaign fell somewhere near the middle, and he was often considered left of his party as a whole, particularly on the contentious issues of immigration and campaign finance. McCain, however, would have supported much of what Obama advocated in the State of the Union address in January such as state spending on infrastructure improvements as well as the newfound appreciation for spending cuts that Obama is championing now ($4T), following on the heels of Republican Paul Ryan’s $4.4T deficit-reduction plan. Perhaps the farthest-left of Obama’s proposals were his removal of subsidies for oil companies (in order to subsidize clean energy production) and allowing all else in his healthcare bill to be renegotiated except he wanted to ensure that insurance companies could not withhold a policy based on pre-existing conditions. These are not the leftist policies that dominated Obama’s first term. These are centrist policies designed to minimize friction with the right and land his policy development squarely in the center, where it might attract the independent votes which he lost through 2009-2010. And at 35:50 in his speech, Obama even seemed upset that the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. So the question is how does the left feel about this?

As a result of Obama’s abandonment of the left, he is facing accusations from some this week (April 13, 2011) that he is “the enemy of liberals” (Layne, 2011). This is nothing new, however. As far back as a few days after his inauguration in January 2009, The Economist had listed a number of leftwing groups that were offended, from gay rights groups to anti-war activists to women’s rights organizations (The Economist, 2009). Even the libertarians are getting in on the action as they seem to view Obama as a similar policy-maker to his predecessor, hence their website slogan stating that “Obama = Bush” on the Young Americans for Liberty website http://www.yaliberty.org/o-w (Young Americans for Liberty, Undated).

This disillusionment stands to benefit the GOP greatly in 2012, as Obama creates his own spending cuts, extends the Bush tax cuts and at 36:06 in the speech, discusses simplifying the tax code to eliminate loopholes and “level the playing field” (flat tax?), which will allow us to “use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years–without adding to our deficit” (Obama, 2011). The Republicans are benefited by having their own policies implemented in the White House, without the political liability that comes along with the parts that become unpopular. Others on the left say that Obama has learned that in order “to win the debate, he must change the debate” by turning the Republican ideas of spending cuts into something that liberals can accept (Corn, 2011). None of this means the Tea Party and other fiscal conservatives will be satisfied. With Obama as a de facto fiscal policy ally, the GOP’s biggest fight in 2012 might be with itself.

Works Cited

Corn, D. (2011, April 13). Is Obama Hijacking-Or Reinforcing-the GOP’s One Big Idea? Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://motherjones.com: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/obama-deficit-speech

Layne, K. (2011, April 13). Slow-Witted Liberals Finally Realizing Obama Is Their Enemy. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://wonkette.com: http://wonkette.com/442974/slow-witted-liberals-finally-realizing-obama-is-their-enemy

Obama, B. H. (2011, January 25). State of the Union 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://whitehouse.gov: http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2011

The Economist. (2009, January 22). Lexington: Betrayed by Obama. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://www.economist.com: http://www.economist.com/node/12987505?story_id=12987505

Young Americans for Liberty. (Undated). April All-Out Activism: O=W. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://www.yaliberty.org: http://www.yaliberty.org/o-w

About Barry Saturday

The author is a Lexington, Ky-based financial advisor and formerly taught high school social studies for Fayette County Public Schools. Along with a M.A. in Education, his educational background consists of a B.A. in Foreign Languages and International Economics and an M.A. in Diplomacy with a concentration in Global Commerce. In 2012, he finished a two-month stint student teaching in Xi'an, China, and recently (2018) ran for City Council in Lexington, KY (District 4: Tates Creek / Nicholasville Rd area). Today's news outlets profit most from incendiary, surface-level appeals to emotion, which is poisoning much of our political discourse nationwide. Barry created this site in order to learn more about our world and share that knowledge with others. He hopes this site, aimed at an educated audience, will provide objective information for those seeking greater clarity and understanding than is often available in the current news environment. If you like what you see, feel free to comment and share with your network.

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