Tag Archive for 2012 Election

Lame Duck on November 7th

Usually the term lame duck applies to a President during the two month period after the election through the day he leaves office. Since he is on his way out, he has very little power and is thus a lame duck. Unfortunately, President Obama became a lame duck the day after he won the election. Several factors have placed him in this situation. Typically, Presidents are re-elected by larger margins than they received when first elected. It was true of Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton. Bush 43 only increased his margin slightly and accomplished virtually none of his agenda during his second term. This President was re-elected with 7 million fewer votes than he received in 2008, despite there being nearly 5 million more eligible voters.  Second, during the second half of his first term, he repeatedly complained that he couldn’t work with the divided Congress, yet the Congress he faces next year is nearly identical to the one he faced then. Indeed, most of the Republican members were either elected or re-elected by running against the President as much as against their actual opponents. Our own new congressman, Andy Barr, won his election by tying his opponent to the President. What this means is that these members of the House are under no electoral pressure to give the President the tax increases he wants. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Finally, he has boxed himself into a position from which he will likely have to retreat. By insisting during the campaign and in remarks after his victory that he won’t accept any budget that doesn’t raise taxes, he has put himself in exactly the same weak negotiating position he has been in for the last two years and the outcome will almost certainly be exactly the same. Since his re-election was marginal, he can’t really go over Congress’s head to the people, as Reagan, Clinton and others have done. The bully pulpit only works if you are popular. This lack of leadership is what I most feared by his re-election and it now looks like we are facing several more years of inaction on a fiscal crisis that grows more critical with each passing day.