I read an op-ed by David Brooks in the New York Times the other day that defined the management style of President Obama. It was a very intriguing take on how our president goes about his business of finding solutions and visualizing legislation. Most importantly, it swooped me out of the black hole that is the media’s growing depiction of President Obama’s inability to lead our country. Brooks points out that it does seem as though our president has disappeared from the limelight when it comes to negotiating the lowering of our debt - and this seems far from the personality of the man who outspokenly campaigned in ‘08 and is known for coming off as cocky - but in reality this is the management style that has come to be for President Obama. He sits back and consumes all facets of an issue or policy debate and intervenes when he feels the time is right - after all it is Congress that makes the laws (although most of the time they can’t even accomplish this).
I agree with Brooks’ perspective that this is not an entirely horrible way to lead - and that it does in fact allow us to scale back from the lofty standards President Kennedy misled us to believe were attainable. Brooks goes on to encourage the president to finally step into the debt talks and exercise his passive management style of negotiating with Republicans. But, today, the president did the exact opposite and came out as the assertive party leader that was going to fight for the Democratic plan to lower the debt. He stepped into the ring swinging by stating that he would not back down from raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans (alright, he didn’t exactly state it so candidly, but you knew he meant business). It was an agressive leadership tactic that we had not seen from President Obama in quite some time, and it was great use of the bully pulpit to remind voters of the Republican ultimatum - cut spending on vital programs utilized by the middle class, leave the wealthy and their (barrels of) money alone, and then we will raise the debt limit.
This has become a debate that is being treated like a game in Washington, but most Americans will tell you their economic future is far from something to play around with. President Obama is finally stepping in as the adult in a situation that has been handled childishly by the Republican Leadership. There is no such thing as “cutting to prosperity,” and if we are going to fix our $14 trillion dollar national debt, we are going to do it by cutting waste and eliminating tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. If the Republicans cannot arrive at this compromise, then they can pull an Eric Cantor and simply walk away from the American people when a solution needs to be found.
This is a time when all voters need to sit back and ask themselves a simple question that can be applied to many different scenarios: At what point do we stop funding the hedge fund manager’s third house, and start funding the college scholarship of a promising student? President Obama did an exceptional job of clarifying this today, and it is clear we have a man who is determined to find the best answer to decreasing our debt - not just a band of puppets settled on pandering to their party base with an election coming near.