Under present conditions, the administration’s tools for invigorating the recovery are limited, to be sure. However bold and decisive the president chooses to be, he cannot just decree faster growth. But if Democrats and Republicans moved immediately to raise the debt ceiling and promptly to clarify the medium-term fiscal picture – a task that cannot wait until 2013 – they would improve confidence and lessen the risk of a second recession.
The president can play a crucial role in this. Merely calling for unity achieves nothing. But the bin Laden operation gives him fresh political capital, though perhaps not for long. He should use it to impose himself – talking past a stone-deaf Congress to the electorate; advancing cold, clear choices about curbing long-term borrowing; thus making space, should it prove necessary, for renewed short-term stimulus. They call it leadership.
No, they call it fantasy. Obama -- any president -- is about as likely to convince the American people to demand that their representatives pass his favored mix of tax hikes and spending cuts as he is to singlehandedly take out the rest of al Qaeda.
Please please please Mr. Crook, read a political scientist or two. Presidents do not overcome a recalcitrant opposition by rallying the public from the bully pulpit; they do not convince the electorate to embrace tax hikes and spending cuts unless someone or group can orchestrate "everybody...[i.e., leaders from both parties] getting in that boat at the same time," as Obama has said he aims to do. Presidents may seem to convince the public when conditions shift so that the public is willing to try policies they've long been advocating; they may gradually nudge public opinion in a direction toward which it's started to trend; they may, when they have a majority in Congress, push through unpopular policies that are later vindicated by events (or seem to be). But when they"lead" in the way Crook envisions they suffer the kind of defeat that met Bush Jr. when he tried to privatize social security.