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Sunday, November 14, 2010

 

Obama should call Republicans' bluff

Obama should call Republicans' bluff: Embrace key GOP proposals -- and see if they play ball

Steve Benen
Sunday, November 14th 2010, 4:00 AM

Lyons/Getty

 

Two short years ago, one of the presidential tickets had the wisdom to not only acknowledge the climate crisis, but also to present credible solutions to address it.

If elected, the tandem told Americans, they intended to do what the Bush administration would not: establish "a cap-and-trade system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions" and pursue "alternatives to carbon-based fuels." The result, they said, would be "a better future for our children."

The candidates were John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The nuances matter, but the differences between the Democratic vision on energy policy and the McCain-Palin platform are relatively minor. In fact, if the White House were prepared to open negotiations with a Republican-led House next year, President Obama could do worse than starting with the McCain-Palin plan.

With that in mind, why doesn't he do just that? What better way for a Democratic President to demonstrate a commitment to bipartisanship than by embracing specific Republican proposals?

The conventional wisdom is that Obama is in a nearly untenable position in the wake of the midterm elections. He could continue to fight for his top priorities, butt heads with GOP lawmakers intent on destroying his presidency, and run into inexorable gridlock. Or he could drift to the right, concluding that more conservative policies are better than a stagnant government, running the risk of alienating his liberal base.

But there's an alternative behind door #3: embrace the handful of Republican ideas he already likes, effectively challenging the GOP to take "yes" for an answer.

There are more such ideas than you may realize.

Energy policy is arguably the easiest area for common ground, given the McCain-Palin agenda of 2008. Obama could endorse it with relative ease. Though it's unlikely today's GOP, which has lurched far to the right, would appreciate the gesture, it would be somewhat more challenging for Republicans to characterize a plan presented by their own party's presidential ticket as some kind of communist plot.

Second, there's immigration. The White House's vision of a comprehensive reform plan is already in line with the last administration's approach on the same issue. The President can keep the bipartisanship going by endorsing the Bush-Cheney immigration proposal, almost to the letter.

Likewise, the Dream Act, intended to help children of illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship, was written in large part by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Republicans want to make cuts to government spending? No problem - several prominent GOP lawmakers, including hard-line conservatives like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), have recently endorsed trimming the enormous Pentagon budget, an idea Obama could also get behind.

And if the President were feeling particularly mischievous, he could endorse the tax rates adopted by Ronald Reagan, who oversaw rates considerably higher than the ones in place today. Would Republicans really condemn Ronaldus Magnus' tax policy?

The goal of the nation's leading Democrat endorsing GOP proposals would have less to do with magnanimity and more to do with throwing emboldened Republicans off-balance. It's easy for GOP attack dogs to snarl when Obama is pushing his own ideas; it's a challenge to their credibility when they start attacking Republican ideas.

To a very real extent, the White House has already taken some steps down this road, albeit subtly, and with limited success. Since his inauguration, the President has endorsed a series of Republican ideas - an independent deficit commission, an individual mandate in health care, trying terrorist suspects in U.S. civilian courts.

Each and every time, GOP leaders have cynically tacked away from their own policies after learning of Obama's support, and much of the public has conveniently forgotten that Republicans ever believed in the ideas in the first place.

That's all the more reason for the President to be explicit in pursuing the strategy. Let people know that, in several key areas, the White House isn't fighting Republican ideas, but, on the contrary, endorsing them, challenging their proponents to put up or shut up.

If even then John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and their cohorts announced that Obama's overtures weren't good enough, it would send a pretty clear signal to the country about who's willing to compromise, who's willing to listen to the other side and who's sincere about finding solutions to the nation's challenges.

Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly and the author of its "Political Animal" blog



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/11/14/2010-11-14_bam_should_call_the_gops_bluff.html#ixzz15HcopdAn

Comments:
The author of that article fails to mention one thing.
That is what the majority of THE PEOPLE want in regard to many of those policies mentioned. It does not matter with the majority of the people who puts forth the policy or agenda from any party. All the politicians are being put under the eye of the people now. Any of them can be voted out or have pressure put on them while in office. They are but a phone call, e-mail, demonstration or town hall meeting away.
The political scene has changed with more citizens involved.

Just my opinion.
Anyone for tea. They are having a party somewhere. ROFLMAO
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