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July 27, 2009

Analysis: July a Disaster for Obama, Dems

"Disaster" The Hill's word choice in the headline, mind you.

Nothing you don't know, but, like your favorite book from childhood, a pleasure to read again anyhow.

Despite a number of former Democratic members and aides working in the Obama administration, Democrats on Capitol Hill have grown bolder in defying their party leader. Many centrist Democrats are worried that Republicans will have the upper hand in the 2010 elections.

Paul Light, an expert on the presidency and a professor at New York University, said the president's problems with Capitol Hill reflect "a miscalculation by the Obama administration on how political capital gets spent in Washington."

Light said that capital, even for a president who enjoys immense personal popular support like Obama, is spent a bit at a time on each initiative or piece of legislation.

"I think the Obama administration has been spending political capital at roughly the same rate the federal government spends money," Light said. "Eventually, it runs out."

Light quoted President Lyndon Johnson, who said that "if you don't get it done in six months, you're not going to get it done."

One of the reasons Obama has spent so much capital, aside from his ambitious agenda, has been his willingness to cede so much control to Congress, Light said.

While lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are allies of the president, his political capital is not necessarily a priority of theirs.

To that end, Light says, Obama has made a mistake in making Pelosi his "broker," spending his political capital but not always to his benefit.

The other misstep that has bogged down the administration on healthcare specifically is Obama's inability to communicate effectively to the American people, Light said.

While it is shocking to consider that Obama is anything less than one of the best communicators in modern political history, when it comes to healthcare, he simply has not been able to make the sell to people who do have health insurance.

And Wednesday night's primetime press conference was a "disaster," Light said.

Obama can't communicate his vision on health care because, 1, he largely is devoid of one, and 2, to the extent he has one, the American people would reject it if he announced it forthrightly.

The American public wants something it really can't have, no matter who is in office -- they seem to want subsidies for the middle-class for health care. The middle class wants more health care at cheaper rates. I think they vaguely have in mind "the rich" will pick up the tab.

That would be hellaciously expensive.

But apart from that, you can't really give the middle-class subsidies for health care until you subsidize the poor -- those without health insurance -- first. And the middle class sort of doesn't want to do that, for the simple and understandable reason that it doesn't help they themselves out at all. The opposite, really, as everyone will soon be paying for the health care of everyone poorer than himself.

Obama's plan is to insure the poor and tax the middle class. And, on top of that, institute a covert rationing system so that the tax on the middle class will be partially hidden; they won't see direct taxes rise quite as much, but only because they're having important services taken away from them on the sly.

So that rather than getting more health care for less money, the middle class will get less health care for more money.

Sort of, uhhh... the complete opposite of what they want when they say they want health care "reform."

Under these circumstances there's a limit to what Obama's overpraised communication skills can do.

Why, it's almost like trying to sell the nuke-crazy mullahs of Iran on a nuclear disarmament plan they don't want at all.

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posted by Ace at 05:22 PM

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