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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Obama Shows His Gambling Streak in Debt-Ceiling Deal

Among the many misconceptions about Barack Obama is that he is cautious. In fact, it is hard to think of a modern president in recent times who has been more willing to take big risks, not because he is reckless, but because he is willing to suffer potential short-term setbacks to achieve a desired long-term result. It is in that context that the much-maligned debt-ceiling compromise must be understood.

This sort of risk-taking goes beyond making policy choices, whose success or failure will always be debated, and can’t be known for years. What I am talking about are presidential decisions that can be demonstrably shown to be right or wrong in a relatively short window, with serious repercussions. That sort of risk-taking by presidents is fairly rare, and yet Obama hasn’t hesitated to take such gambles.

One example early in his administration was his choice to “bail out” the automobile industry. There were many ways in which that could have gone wrong: Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. (GM) could have failed; management changes and bankruptcy filings that the administration insisted upon could have exacerbated problems; good money could have been thrown after bad.

The safe course was the one that President George W. Bush followed: pumping in just enough money to be able to say he had made an effort, and letting the chips fall where they may. But Obama took action by investing substantial funds, demanding important management and strategic changes, requiring bankruptcy filings, and painfully shrinking auto-dealer networks. All were risky steps that could have quickly unraveled.

Two years later, that choice is paying off: Car sales have risen, auto-industry employment is up, taxpayers are getting their money back, and U.S. cars are getting higher consumer ratings than ever.

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • Jackie Corrigan

    I have a Question. How did Grover Norquist get the power over the Republicans? It is not always clear to see what our president is up to, but I voted for him and I will do it again. Thankyou for your article. Jackie Corrigan

  • BerniceEpstein

    Pres. Obama has to get Congress out of the sandbox and not with a whistle. But take away the sandbox.This deficit mess is the result of eight years of Bush incompetent administration.Pres. Obama is not a fairy Godfather that can wave his wand to make it go away.It will take years.The Tea Party is the Titanic Party.They don’t care if we hit an iceberg as long as they are the only ones wearing the lifejackets.

  • VQuarterman

    The Republicans never seem to worry about the fate of the poor or lower middle class because any situation that diminishes Medicare or Social Security does not effect their positions in life. They don’t care about the conditions of public schools because their children go to the best private schools and colleges. The cuts in educational spending only affect the level of other children’s educations and conditions of the schools they attend; not the Republican’s children. The Republicans can afford to absorb a recession because they are already far, far more financially able to ride out two or three years of what would be a devastating period for those in the lower classes (middle on down). The Republicans would only have to cancel that month long stay in Greece for the summer (darn it) if the economy doesn’t pick up. So they can afford to play political games with the country’s credibility and America’s ability to feed their children and educate them today, as well as senior citizens ability to maintain the simple necessities of life. The Republicans need to get serious and get off their high horse and loosen up those stuffed shirts and stop sending millions of fellow Americans out to slaughter by way of home foreclosures, downsizing, educational spending cuts, Social Security pinching, and halting unemployment extension benefits. All these things do not directly affect or change the Republican’s lives one way or the other! So why should they care?!

  • amamossman

    So refreshing to read a calm and reasonable response to Obama critics – including those who purport to be supporters. It’s pretty universally acknowledged that our president is a smart man. Those who call for “toughness” seem to be disregarding strategy – not to be confused with weakness. My heart, faith and vote stay with President Obama.