This is the single biggest mental block I have against voting next week — that despite all the information showing otherwise, any Democratic wins will somehow be translated into support for …. Republican policies!
While trying to save money, Obama will have to decide whether to bend to Republican and growing Democratic pressure to extend Bush-era tax cuts, even for the wealthy, that expire at year’s end. Obama wants to extend them for people making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000, but a broader extension is gaining favor with an increasing number of Democrats.
Moving to the fore will be a more serious focus on how to balance the federal budget and pay for the programs that keep sinking the country into debt.
In other times, that discussion might seem like dry, Washington talk. Not now. People are fed up with federal spending, particularly as many remain jobless.
The White House refuses to talk about how the president will have to adjust his style or goals if power in Congress tilts right, for fear of undermining what Obama is still campaigning hard to do: keeping Democrats in power. There is no conceding as Obama recruits voters and rallies supporters all the way to Nov. 2.
Yet if polls and analysts are on target, Republicans are poised to win big, possibly taking control of the House and gaining seats in the Senate, where Obama’s party already lacks the votes to overcome bill-killing delay tactics. Obama probably will operate in an environment with even fewer moderate Republicans.
The president has signaled that at the start of the new year, he will speak more directly to the country about the financial choices ahead. “If we’re going to get serious about the deficit, then we’re going to have to look at everything: entitlements, defense spending, revenues. … And that’s going to be a tough conversation,” he said.
It’s one that will be framed by a bipartisan debt commission, whose ideas this December will give Obama political cover on where to suggest unpopular cuts.