Springtime for Obama, and Pelosi! Winter for Palin and Bush ...
Everyone has their personal hopes, all put into the hands of Obama, the vessel of their dreams. Many of my friends and relatives hope for subsidized healthcare, or maybe free! My VC friends hope for subsidies for their cleantech deals (they may need something as oil heads towards $40) and special capital gains treatment for small business investments. They and their private equity brethren are hoping against hope that their carried interest maintains capital gains treatment. My overseas friends hope for a new friendly face of America. Maliki hopes to call in his chit for helping Obama win (something I commented on at the time). Iran's leader hopes Obama will renounce US "war-oriented" policies and express remorse for past dealings with Iran. Gays marched in SF and LA following the loss of gay marriage in California fully expect Obama to restore it, despite the uncomfortable truth that many Obama supporters voted to overturn it, especially black voters. And some Obama supporters now expect Obama will pay for their gas and their mortgage!
Obama's bucket of hope runneth over. What will spilleth to the floor?
Will Obama push for rapid change? FDR is celebrated for his first 100 days. Traditionally Democrats have striven to get their agenda passed quickly, while the honeymoon lasts, as LBJ did following Kennedy's death with the landmark Civil Rights Act, followed by Medi-Care and the War on Poverty. Clinton's first 100 days, however, backfired badly and led to Republicans seizing the House in 1994. Pelosi is already dampening expectations. She would rather consolidate her party's political gains than push for change. Will the advocates for remaking America be short-changed?
Will Obama show restraint in the shadow of a Greater Depression? The Bush tax cuts expire in 2010. Maybe Obama will not raise taxes in his first year but wait until 2010. You can see on the financial news networks like CNBC the expectation that he will forbear radical change, especially among fiscal conservatives - exit polls suggest as many as 20% of conservatives voted for Obama, believing him to be a centrist moderate President. Will he instead strive for social justice and "sharing the wealth," shocking these hopeful conservatives?
Will the real Barack Obama please stand up ...
I predict that either way we will have a Summer of Disillusionment. The only question is timing:
- If he pushes for radical change, it will come quickly, in 2009, after his 100 Days, and be centered on the fiscal conservatives and hopeful moderates who thought him a centrist.
- If he sensibly waits until 2010 to live up to his many promises, it will come in the summer of 2010, as the radical supporters clamoring for remaking America will find their hopes dashed by the delay and the fiscal constraints Obama will be operating within amidst a weak economy reeling from the financial meltdown.
Even if the agenda is unveiled before he takes office, Obama is a smart enough politician to try to keep both sides relatively in the game. It is only as the actual path unfolds that one side or the other will be shocked and dismayed.