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A prediction about - and recommendation for - Obama's possible 2nd term

April 6, 2012 - Mike Maneval
Commentary at reason.com by Steve Chapman - a skeptic of government's authority and abilities - encourages skepticism of a different sort. Chapman criticizes the overwrought hyperbole of opponents of President Barack Obama's reelection, and reminding his readers of the political realities of governing and the checks and balances that keep any and all presidents from the sort of unilateral power the hyperbole-prone fear.

The debate prompted me to consider what a second term for Obama may include, and while I offer no prediction on whether Obama will secure another four years, I have one meager prediction if he does, and some thoughts on how his opponents best should handle it, were my prediction to come to pass.

I believe it is safe to assume Obama - like nearly every candidate to pursue elected office - is inordinately interested in his public image. Some of this is out of professional necessity, and perhaps some because the public life often attracts vain people. In the wake of a reelection victory, he will be motivated in part by a desire to build on the reputation he will carry forward after leaving office. Reducing the spending deficit to a level below where it was as the presidency of George W. Bush ended would provide Obama's supporters with a concise talking point for defending his performance, for decades to come.

And so, a "grand bargain" may be offered, in which the president commits to spending cuts equal to increases in taxes to begin to close the deficit. And with the deficit and debt remaining critical threats to the nation's future, his opponents would be wise to negotiate such a deal with him, with at least two conditions.

Republicans in Congress should press for each dollar in additional tax revenue to be matched twice, with a dollar in cuts to the big public assistance programs - often called entitlement programs - of Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage and Social Security, and a dollar in spending cuts to other portions of the budget, with federal education spending, food stamp programs, federal funding for the arts and humanities, military spending all on the table, among other expenditures.

What shouldn't be on the table are increases for earned income or other "payroll" taxes. The component of the plan requiring greater revenues should be focused on the myriad forms of unearned income, or on tariffs.

If my prediction comes to pass - and many of my predictions do not - and if the president's opponents heed my advice, the U.S. could see a less bleak bottom line at the federal level while protecting working Americans from bearing an undue burden. Which, coincidentally, would be an outcome worthy of the deliberative and measured system Chapman praises in cautioning readers to avoid hyperbole and hysteria.

 
 

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