|Obama Should Accept Boehner’s Offer to Deal|
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, November 08 2012
With a clear victory ushering in his second term, President Barack Obama is in the driver’s seat for the next three months. From now until February, he will negotiate some sort of tax deal with Republican House Speaker John Boehner, deliver his second inaugural address and speak to the nation about the State of the Union. In each case, the question he must answer is whether to steer a conciliatory course, or veer off into irreconcilable partisanship.
First up is negotiating a debt deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Starting on January 1, 2013, the so-called fiscal cliff will appear. If left unaddressed, Americans will see their taxes spike $500 billion with the expirations of the Bush tax cuts and a temporary payroll tax holiday. The budget sequestration trigger will unleash $1.2 trillion in painful, indiscriminate cuts across the federal government.
To avoid that scenario, Boehner extended a post-election olive branch to President Obama, saying, “If there’s a mandate in yesterday’s [election] results it’s a mandate for us to find a way to work together on the solutions to the challenges that we all face as a nation.” “This is your moment. We want you to succeed,” Boehner said in a Washington, D.C. press conference.
Obama would be wise to negotiate with Boehner. Fresh off a low-ball campaign where the incumbent won by trashing his challenger rather than explaining why his first term deserved an encore, Obama needs a moment to look magnanimous in victory. For the last month the leader of the free world has looked and sounded like a petulant child, scowling during debates and encouraging supporters to vote out of revenge.
After a $1 billion campaign that changed almost nothing about the balance of power in Washington, Obama should remember that he is the President of the United States, get off the grandstand and show some bipartisan leadership. A tax reform deal with Boehner and the Republican House would help not only the stock market and job growth, but also American morale.
The next agenda item should be a second inaugural that channels the sentiment in Abraham Lincoln’s. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
Of course, the 2012 presidential contest cannot and should not be compared to the devastating physical toll exacted on the nation by the Civil War. But there is no question that tens of millions of Americans are emotionally raw after a nasty campaign that may herald some major turning points. Real bipartisan tax reform would go a long way to help Obama’s Lincoln-esque tone not sound hollow.
Finally, there is the State of the Union. To date, the only memorable occurrences at an Obama SOTU were a frustrated congressman yelling, “You lie!” at the President, and an incredulous Supreme Court justice responding “That’s not true” to another fallacious claim.
Though it may sound a bit simplistic, Obama should seriously consider saying something to Congress on the order of, “My door is always open.” One of the criticisms from Republicans and Democrats of Obama has been that the President doesn’t return phone calls, invite people over to dinner or even to go golfing. It may sound like a minor complaint, but you can’t build relationships with people you don’t know.
Because he squeaked by in the popular vote, President Obama would do well to see his reelection not so much as a mandate for more of the same, but as a chance to finally deliver at least one bipartisan accomplishment, and perhaps two nonpartisan speeches.
He’s got three months. We’ll see if he rises to the moment.
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