This past Tuesday Barack Obama reached an agreement with congressional Republicans that not only extended the Bush tax cuts but finally made him presidential.
Don't get me wrong, I am the first one to support ending the Bush-era tax cut on those making over 250k per year. But, I am also a strategist and I understand the value of proper positioning in order to win the end game.
Republicans gloated when they got what they wanted. They used their newfound clout to force the President to support their position on tax cuts and the estate tax. In exchange, they gave the President the second stimulus package he wanted -- and without a fight. There is not a serious economist around who did not believe the economy needed one more significant economic push to get it over the hump. The number most kicked around was another $700 billion. It was a number congressional Republicans never would have agreed to, especially after a campaign where they vowed to stop spending. Now, however, that is exactly what they did. After subtracting the approximately $120 billion the tax cut extension to the wealthy will cost Americans, the President is left with about $780 billion in stimulus. Bully for him. What is astonishing is how quickly the Republicans were willing to give up the need to pay for any of this as long as they got the high-end tax cut they wanted. It's very telling.
The benefit for the president is not just Stimulus, Part 2. He also managed to do what every teen must do if they are ever to become an adult. He cut the cord with his own party.
Democrats on the left are howling. But, they are also the ones who would burn down their own house out of principle. Republicans on the right have yet to wake up to the reality of the bargain they made. When they do, they will be equally as bereft. They will wake up only to realize that President Obama may have secured for himself the economic upturn Mitch McConnell seems so intent on denying the president, even at the expense of the American middle class.
In the next year, should the economy round the curve, as it now may as a result of this stimulus, Obama will be well positioned to outmaneuver any challenge from the left of his party or, frankly, from the right. In two years, when the extension on the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire, don't be surprised if it is an emboldened and re-elected Obama who forces Republicans to cave to his will in exchange for cuts in spending that will actually reverse America's fiscal imbalance. Democrats on the hill do not like what is happening. Well, they should have thought about that when they failed to fight and defend their votes on healthcare during the campaign. They caved, lost their position, lost any momentum, and now they cry that the President is not interested in working with them. Well, he tried. Now it looks like he's tired of trying and is intent on walking right past them. Good for him.
President Obama is standing up. Scurrying at his feet are Democrats kicking his heels, and Republicans who have yet to discover they are about to be in the shadow of the incredibly growing president.
Charles Perez is a former ABC news anchor and talk show host. His book, Confessions of a Gay Anchorman is due out in February.