The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


What They’re Saying: Obama and Averting the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

by Newsteam Staff
November 8, 2012

Photo of the Day: A man exits after watching U.S. President Barack Obama's acceptance speech broadcast live in Times Square November 7, 2012. (Andrew Kelly/Courtesy Reuters) Photo of the Day: A man exits after watching U.S. President Barack Obama's acceptance speech broadcast live in Times Square November 7, 2012. (Andrew Kelly/Courtesy Reuters)


Obama’s Reelection and the Economy

The LA Times editorial board writes that President Obama’s most immediate challenge is averting the fiscal cliff, which has the potential to send the United States back into recession if a deal isn’t reached before January. They also say that the “longer-term problem for the president will be coping with the dueling pressures of an economy that’s growing too slowly and a federal debt that’s growing too fast, largely because of the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid.”

In the New York Times, Bill Keller offers Obama advice on the fiscal cliff negotiations:

I’ve proposed before that Obama make it perfectly clear: if the Republicans continue to play stall and sabotage, if they do not respond to genuine offers of a fiscal bargain, he is prepared to let the tax cuts expire and draconian spending cuts (including defense) kick in automatically at the beginning of the year. It would not take a lot of persuading for the public to blame Congress and – as Obama recently pointed out – voting is the best revenge.

Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank and former deputy secretary of State, writes in the New York Times that “Economics is the new coin of the foreign policy realm,” and that the United States must now consider “political economy strategies to be foreign and security policy,” in order to retain its world economic ranking.

In Foreign Policy, Daniel W. Drezner agrees, reiterating his prediction that foreign economic policy will take the lead as soon as fiscal cliff negotiations are over.

Obama’s Reelection and Immigration

The New York Times editorial board identified immigration as one of the major issues that helped Obama win the election, saying:

Mr. Romney, it turns out, made a fatal decision during the primaries to endorse a hard line on immigration, which earned him a resounding rejection by Latinos. By adopting a callous position that illegal immigrants could be coerced into “self-deportation,” and by praising Arizona’s cruel immigration law, Mr. Romney made his road in Florida and several other crucial states much harder. Only one-third of voters said illegal immigrants should all be deported, while two-thirds endorsed some path to legal residency and citizenship.

Also in the New York Times, Bill Keller predicts that Republicans will become more cooperative with the president on the immigration issue, saying,  “After the burgeoning Latino vote went nearly 70 percent for Obama, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marco Rubio rounding up Republicans for a deal on immigration reform.”

The Washington Post editorial board writes that Republicans would be wise to support an Obama immigration reform plan “if they hope not to be made obsolete by changing demography.”

Obama’s Reelection and Iran

The Washington Post editorial board identified Iran as the first overseas issue that Obama may have to confront in his second term, saying “the Iranian nuclear program will pose a fateful challenge, possibly within months.”

Samuel R. Berger, a former national security adviser for Bill Clinton, writes in the New York Times that “the overriding foreign policy challenge for President Obama going forward is to convince a war weary nation that, in today’s world, we cannot secure our peace or our prosperity without leading others in the world who share our interests.” On Iran, he adds:

It is impossible to know how quickly the Iranians will move forward with their nuclear program; Israelis believe there is a window of eight to 10 months. During this period, Obama must decide whether to put forward a more probative proposal — intrusive international supervision of a strictly limited peaceful nuclear program in exchange for significant sanctions relief. If they reject that proposal, both their intentions and our good faith will be visible to the world.

In Foreign Policy, Aaron David Miller offers similar advice on offering a deal to Iran, adding:

On Iran, explore the hell out of diplomacy before you seriously consider military action — let alone war. Getting out of these conflicts is always more difficult than it seems, and the risk-to-reward ratio on Iran is inherently skewed toward the risk end. Once a nation acquires the knowledge and capacity to construct a nuclear weapon, it can’t just be bombed out of its collective consciousness. Military actions will at best delay, not prevent, Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Unless you can change the mullahcracy in Tehran, your best bet would be an outcome that would keep Iran years away from actually making a nuclear weapon. Given the depth of animosity and mistrust between the United States and Iran over the last half-century, the odds of a grand bargain are pretty low.

Obama’s Reelection and the New Congress

Greg Sargent writes in the Washington Post that not only did the Democrats gain seats in the Senate, but the electees will push it in a more liberal direction:

This could matter when it comes to some of the most important battles set to unfold in Congress: Over tax hikes on the rich; entitlements; and perhaps even immigration reform.

In Politico, Jane Harman, a former congresswoman from California, writes that President Obama should look to the example of President Woodrow Wilson for insight on how to work with a divided Congress.

“The president needs to be able to articulate — and, with the help of Congress, execute — a vision for this country. Wilson did this with the League of Nations, which later became the blueprint for the United Nations,” she writes. “Obama’s Cairo speech was an excellent start, but economic issues swamped the effort.”

For more opinion, the LA Times compiled a roundup of what editorial boards were saying yesterday about Obama’s future.

–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri

1 Comment

  • Posted by Alan MacDonald

    Obama needs to get tough and propose “Wealth Reform” as the solution to the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’:

    Obama is taking entirely the wrong strategy in confronting the Grover Norquist and Frank Luntz scare term “Fiscal Cliff”, which was designed to impose a “Shock Doctrine” of fear, scare tactics, chaos, and stampede the already economically shocked herd of average American people into falsely believing that in the lying words of Margaret Thatcher “There is No Alternative” (TINA) but austerity on them.

    Since the 1% ruling elite Empirists are trying the scare and spook the herd, the 99% of average people, Obama should instead focus on scaring the 1% — and the best way to scare the 1% is to have a similar short ‘sound bite’ term that can balance the budget, save the country, and not hurt the 99%.

    Obama needs to come out with the strong, short, easy to explain, and provable alternative solution that will scare the shit out of the elite: “Wealth Reform” —- in the same context as ‘Land Reform’.

    Yes, the GINI Coefficient of Wealth Inequality in the US (0.80) is the HIGEST IN THE WORLD, and just as ‘Land Reform’ was used in many countries to break-up and better utilize the land which was monopolized by the landed elites, the Wealth that is monopolized, horded, and unavailable for useful purposes in the massive private wealth inequality in the US needs to be freed-up and made available for constructive use.

    Yes, Obama can easily and compellingly show that “Wealth Reform” is what’s needed to restart our economy with constructive investments. He can say, “They, the 1%, are just sitting on trillions. It’s on the sidelines. Even CNBC admits this”. “We need to put that money to work in America, and I’m going to send to Congress a bipartisan bill to begin the job of “Wealth Reform” right NOW, that will save the US from this supposed ‘Fiscal Cliff’ —— “That’s how we will solve the so-called ‘fiscal-cliff’, we’ll just have “Wealth Reform” starting right now”.

    Boy would that scare the shit out of the lazy, fat-assed, speculative, rentier-class, wealthy 1% elite in the US! “Job creators” my ass. These bastards are just sitting on trillions, have the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, and are not doing anything to constructively aid the US economy.

    Obama could say, “we’ll just have ‘Wealth Reform’, take that money and invest it in America and see how that approach works.”. “I’m quite sure that most Americans would like to try that approach instead of the ‘Wealth Hording” and excuses that we’ve heard for the past years, since 2007, from these overly rich and overly wealthy 1% elite who have not been able to suggest anything that they are willing to try to help”.

    Yes, the simple but scary (to the rich) term “Wealth Reform” sure beats ‘Tax Reform’, or ‘Fiscal Cliff’ or any of the other BS scare terms that the wealthy have been using to scare the average folks.

    Even the Corporatist Media will have to report that Obama is considering “Wealth Reform” to address the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ and hell, just raising the specter of “Wealth Reform” will have the wealthy begging for any other solution.

    Best luck and love to the fast expanding ‘Occupy Empire’ educational and revolutionary movement against this deceitful, guileful, disguised EMPIRE, which doesn’t wear Red Coats, Red Stars, nor funny looking Nazi helmets.

    Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality
    Violent/Vichy II

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine