Predictions For The Next Two Years
Like it or not, and many on the left will be in the NOT category, Obama has a couple of problems with pushing the repressed liberal agenda through to law. It's another case of reality meeting rhetoric.
The first is the economy, stupid. He can't afford a bunch of new social spending when he's already looking at a TWO TRILLION dollar deficit for next year. That's a big number, but with the bailout, and another looming economic stimulus, and a Detroit Bailout there just isn't the money. He knows he can only raise taxes on so many, so far, and not finish killing the economy.
Second, history. In the last 32 years the Democrats have controlled both houses of congress, and 1600 Pennsylvania for a total of 6 years. They lost 2 of 3 in 1980, finally got them all back in 1992; and then lost the House in 1994, and the Senate a few years later. All of the losses are easily attributable to pushing to big a social agenda too fast and coming up with economically horrible game plans; 1994 being the best case in point of it.
If you look at the choice of John Podesta as transition coordinator; and probably senior cabinet member; and Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff Obama has grabbed a couple of Clinton advisers that not only know what was done right in those 8 years, but what was done wrong. They'll probably both work towards a somewhat moderate agenda until after the mid term elections. It's entirely possible they'll work on him, and congress, to push a close to centrist agenda until 2012, to ensure a second term and continuing majorities.
Third, it's still the economy, stupid. Some of the pet projects of Democrats are going to get held off on until the economy recovers. One of the surprises in the first 100 days will be that the union backed "card check" legislation won't get signed into law, it may not make it in the first two years.
Obama and his advisers are smart enough to know that increasing labor costs when the job pool is shrinking isn't a great idea. So it will be brought up to placate the union bosses who supported him. But then will die because of a GOP threatened filibuster in the Senate.
So what will liberals get to keep them happy? They'll see a reimportation bill pass, to allow buying drugs from Canada. They may even get some modest price controls on drug bought through medicare with a "negoiated price" on many popular drugs.
SCHIP will expand to higher income levels. It will be hard to demonize childrens health care when the unemployment rate is going up. The GOP may be able to push through a timeframe on the expansion though, or economic milestones that bring it back to the current level.
The Bush tax cuts that took 30 million off the tax rolls will get extended, and some of them will be allowed to expire, specifically say "Welcome Back!" to the death tax and marriage penalty. Capital gains may end up off the table for a while, but increasing withholding for Social Security, in some form, for incomes over $200,000 will probably happen.
Liberals will also get a "security agreement" with Iraq that will bring everyone home in a relatively short amount of time. They'll also claim any problems after they leave aren't their problem because of such an agreement. Anyone looking for a long term basing agreement such as we have with Kuwait and Bahrain will be sorely disappointed.