The thankfully last-term agenda

From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:

Agenda Gives Centrists Pause

Some Democrats Fear Obama’s Social Emphases May Undercut Focus on Economy
By Colleen McCain Nelson, Janet Hook and Sara Murray

President Barack Obama’s sweeping liberal agenda, as laid out in Monday’s inauguration speech, has some centrist Democrats worried the focus on issues such as gun control and climate change could dilute efforts to boost the economy and create jobs.

Mr. Obama’s speech was a call to action on Democratic social issues, focusing in part on civil rights, gay rights and efforts to help low-income Americans.

But parts of his agenda—which includes controlling gun violence, preserving his health-care law and writing more pro-immigrant laws—could prove a tough sell, even with some Democratic members of Congress.

“The reality is that in the few remaining swing districts we have left, you are going to be unable to get the moderates to go with you if you push the agenda too far to the left,” said Dennis Cardoza, a former California congressman and a moderate Democrat. He said prioritizing the economy and immigration was the best course.

More at the link.

The article continued to note that the coalition of voters put together by the President — ethnic minorities, women, younger voters and people who will not work1 — gave the President the ability to push the Democrats even further to the left. The authors noted that, of the 21 Senate seats held by the Democrats which are up for re-election, seven are in states the President lost in 2012, and this will not help the President get much passed in whatever he puts forth as his social agenda. Your Editor would add that the House of Representatives remains under Republican control, so virtually nothing of the President’s social agenda will be passed there.

As for the second line of the headline, “Some Democrats Fear Obama’s Social Emphases May Undercut Focus on Economy,” that would be a good thing. The President’s economic initiatives from his first term simply failed: the stimulus plan added nearly a trillion dollars to the national debt, and accomplished nothing. The target on which the stimulus plan was sold — holding unemployment to a maximum of 8% — came nowhere close to being achieved, and the December 2012 unemployment rate of 7.8% is exactly the same as it was in January of 2009, when the President took office, though it is exactly the same only because so many Americans who should be in the workforce have dropped out.2 Once the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in January of 2011, none of the President’s economic initiatives were passed, and the economy slowly started to improve. Not having President Obama focusing on the economy is about the best thing that the government could do for the economy.
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  1. OK, your Editor added that last part, but it’s true nevertheless.
  2. The U-6 rate was higher in December 2012, 14.4%, than it was when President Obama took office, 14.2%. The U6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.” Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week. And the “marginally attached workers” include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work.

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