Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the bar is too high

Another point I'm glad to hear someone else making:
Big domestic programs (other than tax increases cuts) are nearly impossible. The Bush people went 0-for-2 on big domestic proposals. It’s difficult to turn immigration reform or Social Security privatization into a war against the worst enemy ever.

For all the talk about how Congress did whatever Bush wanted—and they did—he didn’t pass much of import domestically, aside from the big tax cuts (something else that’s always easy to pass) and (EDIT) Medicare Part D, a big corporate give-away (these are also relatively easy to pass). The last president to have success with ambitious domestic policy initiatives was probably LBJ.

Castigating Obama for not being another LBJ seems a little unfair to me.

Health care for all, comprehensive climate change legislation, cutting the military budget, and ending a war with anything other than total victory are probably the four most difficult things a president can attempt to do. As it is, Obama has had to put 3 of them at the top of his agenda. No matter what happens with the others, he will likely have to add the 4th as well.

It already looks like he will end a war, which is impressive enough. If he gets one of the others, he will be a model of successful legislating. Three would put him in the pantheon of great presidential lawmakers with the Roosevelts and Johnson. Four is impossible.

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