Posted by | August 6, 2011 13:54 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

President Obama has been called everything from a Marxist to a moderate conservative, and that is just on this website!  This article by James Warren presents the best description of his philosophy that I’ve read.

As President Obama is pilloried by the left, including by bloggers and editorial writers, for supposedly selling them out during debt ceiling negotiations, a reality check is desperately needed.

Get over it, guys and gals, and remember whom you’re fuming over: a deal-making community organizer.

Recognize this man? In a showdown with ideological enemies, he fashioned compromises which made some Democratic allies apoplectic. Republicans weren’t happy, either, with what he wrought but grudgingly realized there were few alternatives.

Throughout he exhibited a preternatural calm, always seeking some common ground among disparate interests as if compromise was a goal in and of itself, not any diminution of principle as some Democrats thought.

Basically, the president surveys the landscape, gets as much as possible for progressives and makes the deal.  He got a stimulus package that wasn’t as big as many of us wanted but it still helped end the recession.  He didn’t get a public option but he revolutionized health care provision.  He extended the Bush tax cuts but ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ratified START, and got a mini-stimulus.

Like any negotiator, sometimes he misreads his adversaries.  His biggest mistake was leaving the debt ceiling on the table in December instead of trying to add it to the Bush tax cut deal.  That lead to a situation where his poker hand would be as weak as it could be, meaning the best deal was a bad one.  Even here he preserved Medicaid and veterans benefits.

Two other things.  One is that Obama understands something often remembered by the right but forgotten by the left.  Government programs don’t go away.  The Affordable Care Act is here to stay as is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  For those fearing their repeal, here is an exercise for you: count the number of programs ended by Bush and the Republicans when they controlled government from 2003-2006.  Let me know when you’ve gotten to two.  That means every program he starts is likely permanent; every one that gets deferred can be added in the future.  Finally, President Obama keeps his promises (at least more than any politician I can remember).

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.