Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Obama "Picking Fights"

Gary L. Bauer
Campaign for Working Families

One of the most common themes in the emails I receive every day is the growing belief that Washington is broken, that the "system just doesn't work anymore." It's a widely held view. A Gallup poll released Monday found that 77% of Americans felt that "the way politics works in Washington these days is causing serious harm to the United States."

Day after day, Barack Obama and the "mainstream media" blame congressional Republicans and so-called "Tea Party extremists" for the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington. So I was amused by a column in Politico today headlined, "Why President Obama Is Picking Fights With Congress." And there is also this headline from The Hill: "Raring For A Fight, Obama Heads Into His Second Term Swinging."

In other words, Obama is intentionally creating conflicts to portray Republicans as extremists in order to keep his left-wing base energized for the 2014 elections. Friends, this is nothing new. This is how Obama has operated from day one!

That is why Republican leaders have been so frustrated in their attempts to negotiate with Obama. He simply is not negotiating in good faith. It's all about posturing for the next election. You and I know this, but unfortunately many Americans still don't understand.

It is infuriating, but I believe Obama is overplaying his hand. The country is narrowly divided. Yes, he won reelection, but with only 51% of the vote. Hundreds of House Republicans won too. There is no mandate for Obama's left-wing agenda. Just consider some of the "fights" Obama is picking right now:

  • Chuck Hagel -- Obama is daring the GOP to oppose a decorated Vietnam veteran and "one of their own." This is coming from the man who launched his political career in the living room of radical domestic terrorists who bombed the Pentagon. Obama's nomination of Hagel is so controversial that some Senate Democrats aren't even on board. Yet Republicans are portrayed as "unreasonable obstructionists."

  • Gun Control -- It remains to be seen exactly what proposals will emerge from Vice President Joe Biden's commission later this month. But the polling suggests that it is the political left, not the NRA, that is out-of-touch with public opinion.

    A December 2012 poll by the Washington Post found that only 32% of respondents favored "passing stricter gun-control laws," while 49% preferred "stricter enforcement of existing laws." Seventy-one percent said they opposed a nationwide ban on handguns. A Gallup poll found that new gun control legislation ranked fourth on a list of ideas to prevent school shootings. "Increasing the police presence at schools" was the most popular idea, and presumably the police officers would be armed -- the very position put forward by the NRA after the Newtown shootings.

    Already one Senate Democrat has said that the White House proposals she is hearing about are "way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about." I suspect that Democrat senators up for reelection in 2014 in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia might agree with her.

  • Taxes -- Fresh off his reelection victory, Obama demanded higher taxes on the rich. He got them in the fiscal cliff deal.

    According to a Pew poll, 57% say Obama got more of what he wanted, while 20% say Republicans got more. But 52% say the deal will hurt people like them, while only 30% say it will help them. When asked about its effect on the economy, 46% said it would hurt the economy, and 36% said it would help.

    Gallup found similar results. Only 43% of adults approved of the fiscal cliff deal, while 45% opposed it. Obama may have won, but the public doesn't seem particularly happy about it. Now the fight shifts to spending, where Obama is much more vulnerable.

I know many good folks are frustrated with Washington, but it's important to keep things in perspective. Conservatives do not control Washington, and Obama is more interested in scoring cheap political points than he is in good government.