President Obama: New Persona as Washington Denouncer

When Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency, he ran as a unifier who would end the partisan bickering in Washington DC and get the two parties to work together. He stood apart from those many aspirants for national office who characterize Washington DC as the place where most if not all of the nation’s problems originate.

In the first two years of his presidency,Obama created the image of an adult above the fray, who was willing to compromise to the point that he gave his political opponents much or all of what they demanded. Obama, by and large, avoided joining the ranks of the Washington bashers.

Once President unveiled his jobs plan in September 2011, the public began to see a new persona emerging. Strains of Harry Truman’s “do-nothing Congress” began to appear in Obama’s rhetoric and the Republicans in Congress began to be depicted as the chief obstacle to what the general public wanted: action on creating jobs. Republicans were not the only lawmakers standing in Obama’s way, as enough Democratic senators were sufficiently disenchanted with his program for financing the jobs bill that the Senate Democrats substituted a surcharge on those earning at least a million dollars.

It is on his bus trip beginning the week of October 17, designed to generate public pressure to force Congress to pass his jobs bill, that President Obama became a full-fledged Washington denouncer. Gone is the rhetoric about working with the other side and seeking a compromise: he wants his jobs bill passed and he wants it passed NOW!

Once you establish a persona with the public and then make a 180 degree change in that persona, you risk cementing in a public impression that you change positions so often that you stand for nothing.

During the past four or five months, President Obama has focused heavily on getting the wealthy to pay their fair share of federal income tax and eliminating their tax breaks. Charles Krauthammer has an interesting way of putting Obama’s focus on the wealthy in perspective. He contends that an additional three to 4.6 percent tax on millionaires and billionaires — this was before the proposed 5.6 percent surcharge — would have reduced last year’s deficit only from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion; the oil-drilling tax breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending; and the elimination of the tax loophole for corporate jets for 100 years would cover one month of Medicare expenses.

I can’t vouch for Krauthammer’s number calculations, but there is a need for a much more robust income tax structure that  taxes most Americans more and adds several more tax brackets to the current top tax rate.


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