August 24 2012
What Would a Second Obama Term Look Like?
What happens if President Obama wins in November?
The president isn’t talking much about this, preferring instead to try to cast his opponent as a scary guy. Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, however, takes a look at what a second Obama term would bring.
The obvious results of a second term would be higher taxes and more spending. Strassell foresees an even more adamant refusal on the part of the president to address the real issue that threatens the economic health of the nation—entitlements—than in the first term. This means that our bloated deficit would grow.
But what about the less obvious items on a second term agenda?
Presidents often use re-election to revive leftover policy objectives. A New Yorker magazine article in June noted: "The President has said that the most important policy he could address in his second term is climate change." Such an unpopular policy focus might seem crazy if Republicans hold the House, but then again Mr. Obama will want an issue where he can press his advantage and blame an obstinate GOP. The president has to date been unconcerned by how his agenda hurts congressional Democrats; he's unlikely to begin caring once he has been re-elected.
Yet since the probable outcome of his approach would be continued gridlock, his real efforts will be devoted to fine-tuning the regulatory apparatus he has designed specifically to go around Congress—as the administration has done the past two years. The Environmental Protection Agency in particular will resurrect rules it delayed implementing before the election (see: costly ozone regulations) and move to take over new areas like natural-gas fracking.
The same goes for other agencies, from the Labor Department to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The National Labor Relations Board will continue to cement union dominance over employers. The Solyndras will continue. What Mr. Obama cannot accomplish via regulation, he will attempt through executive order—much as he did with his recent immigration directive.
Most voters understand that a second Obama term means the continuation of ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. But there is also the carte blanche that re-election will give the president to supercharge those laws, which are only now entering key rulemaking periods.
Governor Romney also has a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal. It is about his experience at Bain Capital (“What I Learned at Bain Capital”). I wish it were a bit more in the three cheers for capitalism mode, but it’s a good piece and it shows an approach that could not be more different from what we must anticipate in a second Obama term.
One might be tempted to characterize the difference in what we could expect from the two leaders this way: what Mitt Romney did learn at Bain Capital compared to what President Obama didn’t learn in his first term.