Political Bargaining and The Presidential Bully Pulpit
The Obama administration is weighing whether to go big or go small in their jobs plan next week. I think the answer is clear: they should go big so they can go small. [. . . T]he more he identifies himself with particular solutions, the more he poisons those solutions for the Republican Party. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) simply cannot come out and say that ďthe presidentís jobs plan is a sensible, pragmatic package for moving America forward that correctly takes the best ideas from both sides into account.Ē The moment Obama mentions a policy in a big speech, it becomes that much less likely to pass a divided Congress.
Apparently, asking for more than you expect to get in a negotiation is now understood by Ezra. I welcome his enlightenment on this point. But of course, the reality is nothing will be agreed to on stimulus, something Ezra seems to recognize. Good for Ezra, whose thinking on the President's power to set the agenda has also appeared to evolve.:
If Obama gives a speech focused only on the putatively bipartisan ideas that can pass, he hurts himself on two levels: his speech wonít be very inspiring, as those policies arenít very inspiring, and he will have taken the most plausible compromise proposals and made them less likely to win Republican support. The White House political team would like respond to this analysis by saying that occupying the middle makes clear how extreme the Republicans are, but thatís been the strategy for a year now and Obama is at 40 percent in the polls. Perhaps itís time to try something different.
So go big. Iím not a believer in the power of presidential rhetoric to move the opposition, but thereís no doubt that, when yoked to the right policy proposals and legislative strategy, itís capable of moving the agenda. And this is a good time for the Obama administration to move the agenda.
What's strange to me about all this is there is nothing here that did not apply previously. The President should have "gone big" on everything. You can always settle for less, and it allows you to say that your preferred policies were blocked by the Republicans.
In any event, better late than never. Certainly better than continuing the "President is powerless" line.
Speaking for me only
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