With a sweeping election mandate under his belt, President Obama holds a commanding position in the debate over upcoming tax increases and spending cuts. Republican Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran on a tag-team of scaremongering centered on the false talking point that but for sweeping and draconian austerity, America will go the way of troubled European economies. Voters rejected that argument at the polls and chose instead to vote for the responsible, pro-growth agenda advocated by the Obama-Biden ticket. That decisive Obama victory should set a firm, bright and progressive starting line for negotiations on the so-called "fiscal cliff."
Robert Reich at Salon:
I hope the president starts negotiations over a “grand bargain” for deficit reduction by aiming high. After all, he won the election. And if the past four years has proven anything it’s that the White House should not begin with a compromise.Aditya Chakrabortty at The Guardian writes that the left needs to push back against conservative fear-mongering over the "fiscal cliff":
Assuming the goal is $4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade (that’s the consensus of the Simpson-Bowles commission, the Congressional Budget Office, and most independent analysts), here’s what the president should propose:
First, raise taxes on the rich – and by more than the highest marginal rate under Bill Clinton or even a 30 percent (so-called Buffett Rule) minimum rate on millionaires. Remember: America’s top earners are now wealthier than they’ve ever been, and they’re taking home a larger share of total income and wealth than top earners have received in over 80 years.
There is just one problem with this version of events: it's exaggerated. Distorted. More spiced-up than a bargain balti.Jonathan Bernstein at The Washington Post:
For a start, the very term is wrong. Even if the most bloodcurdling predictions are borne out, there will be nothing cliff-like about 1 January 2013. Americans are not about to have a collective Wile E Coyote moment, in which they suddenly find themselves paddling furiously in mid-air – before the inevitable descent begins. This isn't a cliff-edge at all; it's more of a slope. [...]
Yet metaphors matter; and so does media noise. Making out that some indescribable calamity is already inked into the calendar allows the right to hijack the Democrats' budget plans even before Obama begins his second term in office. Britons have had some experience of this.
Barack Obama is reportedly going out on the road to stump for his preferences in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. It’s not apt to change anything in Washington right now — but it might be a good choice anyway. [...]Meanwhile, Eric Pooley at Bloomberg examines how President Obama can push for action to address climate change:
[K]eeping Obama’s volunteers engaged and raising the importance of Congress might be helpful for the party, at least on the margins. And taking the fight over the fiscal cliff public should help do that. Republicans might not listen to Democratic activists telling them to surrender to the president, but activists engaged in this fight now are probably more likely to stay engaged and vote in 2014 – and to bring others with them.
1. Feed the conversation. President Obama can start by simply by talking about the issue — adding to the national climate conversation that began in Sandy's wake, and helping Americans connect the dots between emissions, climate change, and extreme weather. After two years of climate silence in America, this conversation is crucial — and if it is going to lead anywhere, it must include voices from business: Insurance companies talking about the cost of climate inaction. Main Street organizations talking about the need for community resilience in the face of severe weather events. Local first responders, who are often volunteers with day jobs in the business community, talking about the deadly weather trends they are experiencing. It is worth remembering that strong business support helped secure passage of the House climate bill in 2009, and though that effort failed in the Senate, no serious legislation can move without the backing of men and women in the engine room of the American economy. To be politically viable, climate solutions must be economically sustainable.Tom Foreman at CNN looks at lessons the president can learn from Abraham Lincoln:
Lincoln Lesson Two: Be firm, but play nice. Lincoln was no pushover. Despite his legendarily laconic style, Bray says Lincoln had a single-minded ability to steadily exert political pressure on others, inexorably pushing them toward the action he wanted, or rather he felt the nation needed. And yet, he did so in a way that left others feeling unthreatened. "He could talk without anger," Bray says. "He could talk without heat to his political opponents."On a final note, The Washington Post editorial board gives its take on the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus:
Lincoln Lesson Three: Take the long view. Lincoln clearly saw the future in a way that many of his contemporaries could not. He imagined not merely the end of slavery, but also the repercussions that would follow for freed African Americans, southern citizens, and northerners as well. He knew resolution might take many years, and yet he tried to point the politics of the day in the proper direction. "He believed firmly, I think, that if we put our heads to it and we put our wills to it, the American people could be that shining example of equality for the world," Bray says.
THE RESIGNATION of David Petraeus as CIA director is a serious blow to the nation’s national security leadership, and it comes at an unfortunate moment. With the expected departure of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a possible reshuffling of senior officials at the National Security Council, President Obama could have benefited particularly from Mr. Petraeus’s knowledge and seasoning as he begins to grapple with second-term challenges in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. Mr. Petraeus understands those issues as well as any American, and his record of service as a military commander is without equal in his generation.
Given those facts, some have questioned whether Mr. Obama should have accepted Mr. Petraeus’s resignation. The CIA director was found to have committed no crime. Adultery, which he confessed to, is not uncommon, including presumably among his agency’s staff. However, in our view the president made the right call. Mr. Petraeus’s failing was not merely an illicit relationship; he recklessly used a Gmail account to send explicit messages and, as a result, was swept up in an FBI investigation of alleged cyberstalking. Such behavior would not be acceptable in the private sector, or in the military, as Mr. Petraeus recognized.