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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Will Wall Street's Attacks Turn Obama into a "True Populist"?

Is Obama about to become more populist?:

Wall Street's attacks could turn President Obama into a true populist, by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Commentary, Washington Post: Corporate America's stance toward the Obama administration has recently deteriorated into vitriolic attacks and outright opposition. ... Far more ominous for the White House, business has been putting its money where its mouth is: In sector after sector, corporate campaign contributions ahead of November's elections are going to Republicans.
Conventional explanations for this mounting opposition focus on policies and personalities, insisting that the president has embraced runaway government or unnecessarily ruffled business's feathers. ...
But this has it exactly backward. The business-Obama divorce isn't about personalities, and it's not ... anti-business policies. Instead, it reflects a deeper disconnect between corporate leaders and the rest of America... This disconnect has blinded corporate leaders to the extent to which most Americans feel that the government, far from crushing corporate America, has been looking out only for those at the top.
Had Obama realized sooner that he would never win over corporate America, he might have pursued rhetoric and policies that would have alienated fewer voters. ... But could the president have ... won over the public by launching the very thing his detractors in the business community already accuse him of: a populist campaign to reform the economy?
To many on the left, the answer is yes. Journalist Robert Kuttner ... blames ... an economic team that was too solicitous of Wall Street. Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, meanwhile, has found that Obama's fight against extending tax cuts to the very rich resonates powerfully with crucial voting blocs.
Still, the barriers to a more populist route weren't limited to Obama's temperament and his Cabinet. They extended to his Congress, in particular the conservative Democrats in the Senate and the "Blue Dogs" in the House... A more populist route would have alienated them, jeopardizing Obama's entire agenda.
After November, however, Democratic moderates will probably no longer be at the center of the action. With even more Republican votes needed to overcome a filibuster, and with the GOP shifting ever further to the right, Congress is likely to descend into gridlock.
At that point, tough talk will no longer threaten important legislative opportunities. The president will be free to speak frankly about middle-class concerns and draw sharper ideological distinctions. By swinging its support to the GOP, business could bring on a more strident Obama -- in rhetoric, and maybe even in substance.

Maybe Obama will change, but his heart of hearts does not seem to be populist by nature.

    Posted by on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 01:17 AM in Economics, Financial System, Politics | Permalink  Comments (36)


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