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Return To The Obama Method

Probably the best wide-frame analysis of what President Obama was doing in his State of the Union address last night was written by Noam yesterday morning. If you haven't read it yet, Noam's column argues/reports that President Obama was engaged more in co-option of business than in actual substantive placation. 

Obama's various moves over the last few weeks, including the speech, are a return to the political method that launched his career. I wrote a column in 2009 about the Obama method. It involves establishing your reasonableness by taking bad-faith objections at face value and creating a mechanism to work through them. You say you're concerned about excessive red tape? Okay, here's a commission to go through the regulatory code and weed out any rules that fail to pass the cost-benefit test. You're worried about high corporate tax rates? Okay, we can lower them as long as we replace the revenue by closing all the corporate tax loopholes. The deficit's too high? Okay, here's a spending freeze.

Obama is positioning himself for a clash with Republicans by attempting to delineate their objections and declare his willingness to meet him halfway. When their positions inevitably prove more extreme -- when they're looking not to reduce high statutory corporate tax rates or excessive regulation but to open new loopholes and gut essential consumer protections -- then he has the high ground to oppose them.

The method has its flaws, but it's worked pretty well and I can see why he wants to return to it.

Update: Ed Kilgore is thinking along similar lines.