On Tuesday President Barack Obama will give his first State of the Union address since being re-elected. And one of the most intriguing questions as he begins a historic second term…is will he fight for the causes and promises that he campaigned on? Will he be a highly partisan Democrat bent on a liberal agenda or a centrist searching for compromise?
Keep in mind a partisan strategy can and would be politically effective. If he doesn’t compromise with the Republicans on immigration or entitlement reform, and go into the 2014 congressional elections with those problems still live, it could definitely pose some problems for Republicans.
But a deal on the things facing this nation: the debt ceiling, gun control, and immigration reform, would allow Republicans to the share credit. However, with no deal, Democrats could campaign as the guardians of Medicare and advocates of immigration reform, both electoral winners. For this reason, some Democratic Senators have begun to make demands well beyond what Republicans can accept.
But it seems as though the president has chosen the second path. In late January, as soon as a group of Republican and Democratic Senators joined forces behind a unified approach to immigration reform, President Obama signaled his support for it. And this week, the White House said Obama’s budget proposals to House Speaker John Boehner were “very much on the table.” Those proposals include entitlement reforms that arouse immediate opposition from Democrats. So the real question is…is this the right thing to do? There are many who believe the president has not used the leverage of the White House and the presidency to his full advantage.
Or does congress very simply represent a country deeply divided, which calls for the issues at hand to be massaged and compromised, the actions the president so desperately seems to embrace.