Did the Campaigner-in-Chief finally get the message? Since the election, Barack Obama hasn't left the campaign trail. The most extreme example of this behavior was his handling of sequestration. He engaged in weeks of a PR parade, predicting apocalyptic consequences if the Republicans didn't agree to his tax increases and allowed budget “cuts” to go through.
Now it seems that President Panic is changing his approach in handling the future budget debates.
Last night, President Obama invited 12 Republican Senators to dinner. Was this simply a publicity stunt or do we think that this reflects a real change in how Obama plans on governing? I guess time will tell, but it's very telling that this story is even a story … that should tell you a lot about where Washington is at at the moment. But the consensus seems to be that the meeting was positive and that the President was sincere in his outreach. I guess the President skipped the part about Republicans wanting dirty air and water and forcing our government to choose whether we help the poor kids or the disabled kids.
Then earlier today, Obama had lunch with top House budget writers Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan. This is the man whose budget Obama once called “un-American” and “nothing but thinly veiled social Darwinism.”
So there are a few questions to consider. The first question is: Why the sudden change in his approach? It is my belief that the President and his staff saw the negative effects of his scare-mongering parade on his approval ratings. Even those in the lapdog Obama-mania media have questioned whether or not the President over-played his hand. Clearly that approach didn't work out so well for him, and his administration is not filled with dummies. So they will try this new PR tactic.
The second question is: Will this approach work? Well it is certainly better than the approach he has used thus far. The reality is that some sort of agreement needs to be made in order to avoid on-going fiscal cliff scenarios. The other reality is this: Based on what we are hearing about the GOP dinner last night with the President, Barack Obama is still pushing for more revenues. If the Republicans end up caving on this issue of revenues, I think they are far more likely to do so in an approach like this versus the distant, PR charade that Obama engaged in during the sequestration. Here's where they stand, according to The Hill:
Obama reiterated his longstanding demand that Republicans agree to raise taxes as part of any agreement to reform entitlement programs.
Republicans agreed that a deficit deal should increase federal revenues, but argued those should come from economic growth as a result of streamlining the tax code, not from higher net levels of taxation.
I've got to be honest, I'm incredulous in believing that Barack Obama is not doing this solely for political gain – to look reasonable and bi-partisan in the eyes of the public. For the sake of our country and our children's future, I hope that the outreach is indeed sincere and leads to productive compromise. But it's hard to go from doom-and-gloom President Panic to reasonable bi-partisan negotiator in a matter of one week without raising some eyebrows.