How Can Obama Rebound?
Published: July 16, 2010
Though BP managed to stop the spread of oil from its broken well last week, President Obama has been able to do little to stop the drop in his public approval ratings, which now, according to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, hover just above 40 percent. Add these numbers to the comment by Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary, that Democrats could lose control of the House in the November elections, and it equals trouble for the president in 2012. So what does Mr. Obama need to do to shore up his base, woo back independent voters and win a second term? The Op-Ed editors asked political experts to suggest a few plans of attack.
Feel the Turnaround
Let’s be clear: President Obama wants to hold our party’s Congressional majorities. In normal times, his historic achievements — from saving the car industry and banking system to health care and financial reform to successes against Al Qaeda — would form the backbone of a winning midterm-election campaign.
But too many families and businesses are facing hardship. Careers and homeownership have been upended. Young graduates can’t start careers. President Obama and Congress need to do three things immediately to help the private sector create jobs and restore confidence in our economy.
First, extend the current capital gains, dividend tax and middle-income tax rates for two years; grant a six-month payroll tax holiday for American businesses; and accelerate tax breaks for companies that purchase new equipment, build new factories and hire workers in the United States.
Second, establish clear regulations for companies that are poised to build critical infrastructure like broadband and power grids so that they know their costs from the start. With that certainty, these industries would be better able to invest and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years.
Finally, raise the retirement age to 70 for those under 50, and cut benefits for the wealthiest. We have to begin controlling long-term spending.
There’s a lot more to do, not least of all ending the Republicans’ cruel blockade of extended unemployment benefits for the hardest hit. But these three steps would help President Obama invigorate the economy and reassure Americans that Washington is working for them. And the president might just improve his and Congress’s fortunes in the process.
— HAROLD FORD Jr., former representative from Tennessee and author of the forthcoming “More Davids Than Goliaths”