Daily Archives: January 8, 2010

Expect Obama to Make a Right Turn in the State of the Union Address by Gregory Hilton

Several GOP strategists are now expecting President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union Address to be in sharp contrast to his remarks a year ago. This time a central focus will be on deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility. Obama spent more money on new programs in his first nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, and the result was a 30% drop in the President’s popularity among independent voters.
There is little room for big spending initiatives, and I will not be surprised if the speech includes an applause line which would bring all Congressional Republicans to their feet. That would definitely happen if Obama announced “Because of the deficit this is not the right time for a global warming cap-and-trade bill.” Bill Clinton did the same thing in 1995 when he said “The era of big government is over.” The President’s comments on Afghanistan will also result in well deserved GOP applause.
The Obama White House contains astute political professionals and they are aware of the polling data. It indicates Obama is beginning his second year with the highest disapproval rating of any President since modern polling began (see today’s Gallup Poll chart). As of now, 44% of the public disapproves of the job he’s doing as president.
That’s four points higher than the next closest president (Reagan), six points higher than Bill Clinton, and 17 points higher than Jimmy Carter. Obama also begins 2010 with the second worst job approval rating of any president in the last 56 years.
The State of the Union will not occur until after the passage of health care reform. My guess is that the only new domestic initiatives revealed in the speech will be a jobs program and enhanced security measures to stop terrorism. The President will say his 2010 focus is on the deficit, jobs and keeping America safe.
He will say the medium-term deficits are too high, and as part of the new budget process, “I am committed to bringing them down now.” The headline from the speech will be the President’s surprise decision to move $100 billion from the financial bailout bill to deficit reduction.
The best way to achieve meaningful reductions is by scaling back entitlement programs. Defense reductions would be popular with the Democratic Party base, but not with the electorate. Jimmy Carter demonstrated that in 1978 and 1980.
Obama’s Chief of Staff, former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), held a high ranking post in the Clinton White House. It would not be surprising if he reminded the President that Bill Clinton was successful in moving rapidly to the right after the GOP captured the House and Senate in the 1994 midterm elections.
Clinton jettisoned all of his political advisers and instead relied on Dick Morris who strongly urged him to govern as a moderate. The result was spectacular for Clinton who signed the initiatives contained in the GOP’s Contract with America, and was easily re-elected in 1996.
Will Obama be able to adopt the same tactics? I am skeptical and an important difference is that Obama will continue to have a Democratic Congress. It will not be easy for many Democrats to sell themselves as deeply concerned about spending after voting for the stimulus, the bailouts, the health care legislation, the Obama budget and an expensive plan to address global warming.
The Democrats are already on record as supporting four enormous new government programs. After the speech the big question will be was this election year rhetoric or a new reality? If Obama does not move significantly on deficit and budget reductions, his comments from the speech will be rebroadcast as GOP campaign ads next fall.

Democrats Anxious Over a Once-Safe Seat: Ted Kennedy’s Vacancy

The above headline is from today’s New York Times. The article by Abby Goodnough notes the Democratic Party nominee “seemed so certain of winning the special election on January 19 that she barely campaigned last month. . . even in this bluest of states there is a sense the balance of power has shifted dramatically from just a year ago. . . A Brown win remains improbable, given that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in the state and that Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, has far more name recognition, money and organizational support.
“But a tighter-than-expected margin in the closely watched race would still prompt soul-searching among Democrats nationally, since the outcome will be the first real barometer of whether problems facing the party will play out in tangible ways at the polls later this year.”
Coakley continues to have solid support from Democrats, but half the voters in Massachusetts are independents. Some of the reasons those independents might consider the GOP candidate are outlined in the below article by Howie Carr of the Boston Herald.
Feeling blue? Take a second look at Scott Brown
By Howie Carr http://www.bostonherald.com |
You may be a Scott Brown voter if:
• Your federal income taxes are going through the roof in 2011 when the Bush tax cuts expire – and Martha Coakley thinks that’s just wonderful.
• Your local property-tax bill is rising almost as fast as the value of your home is dropping.
• You did at least some of your Christmas shopping in New Hampshire to beat the 25 percent sales tax increase the Democrats imposed on working people.
• You own a package store and you’re getting killed by the new 6.25 percent sales tax on alcohol, on top of the 37 percent excise tax.
• You’re still waiting for that property-tax relief that Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) promised you in 2006.
• You’re in a union, and you’re going to have to pay a 40 percent tax on your “Cadillac” health-care plan if Martha Coakley gets a chance to vote for Obama’s health-care rationing bill.
• You’re on kidney dialysis and you have to pay for your treatment . . . but illegal aliens don’t.
• You watch the crime wave emanating from the State House and wonder why the attorney general can’t seem to find one single solon to arrest. The feds have no difficulty whatsoever nailing lawmaker after lawmaker on serious felonies.
• You believe that if the governor’s appointees rubberstamp a utility-rate increase, and then the next week Gov. Deval pockets campaign contributions from the same power company’s executives, perhaps the attorney general should at least have a comment.
• You’ve had to wait hours in line at a Registry office to renew your driver’s license after they shut down your local branch because of the state’s alleged fiscal crisis – but they still want to give free tuition at state colleges to illegal aliens.
• You would like to send a message to the limousine liberals who are driving this state and this country off a cliff.