The Silent Second-Term Agenda

The most important of these is the shift in the balance of the Supreme Court.

Excerpt:  Let’s dispense with the obvious: An Obama second term will be foremost about higher taxes and greater spending. The president has been clear about the former and will consider victory in November a mandate to raise taxes on higher-income Americans and small businesses—at the least.

Meanwhile, no matter how the coming budget sequester sorts out, nobody should forget why it came into being: It was the result of Mr. Obama’s refusal to consider any real changes to Social Security or Medicare. There will be no reason to budge in a second term. Absent reform to these drivers of debt, and given Mr. Obama’s ambitions to further “invest” in education, energy and infrastructure, a second term means proposals for even broader and bigger tax hikes—and not just for his favorite targets. Continued and growing deficits are likely as well.

 

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Presidents often use re-election to revive leftover policy objectives. A New Yorker magazine article in June noted: “The President has said that the most important policy he could address in his second term is climate change.” Such an unpopular policy focus might seem crazy if Republicans hold the House, but then again Mr. Obama will want an issue where he can press his advantage and blame an obstinate GOP. The president has to date been unconcerned by how his agenda hurts congressional Democrats; he’s unlikely to begin caring once he has been re-elected.

Yet since the probable outcome of his approach would be continued gridlock, his real efforts will be devoted to fine-tuning the regulatory apparatus he has designed specifically to go around Congress—as the administration has done the past two years. 

Read full WSJ article here.

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