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Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

Obama Calls the Shots

By Daniel Haufler

Translated By Ron Argentati

13 February 2013

Edited by Natalie Clager

Germany - Frankfurter Rundschau - Original Article (German)

In his second term, President Obama won't allow the Republicans to keep ripping him off. He has clear goals and he intends to achieve them.

His State of the Union speech left no room for doubt: President Obama is through being a patsy for the Republicans. He doesn't consider bi-partisanship an end unto itself that requires him to give up on his own projects. He will, in fact, push many projects through and bypass Congress with executive orders. He made it clear that he will occasionally offer his cooperation to the conservatives, but he also made it clear that this time he will be calling the shots.

33 years after Ronald Reagan's legendary pronouncement that government was the problem and 17 years after Bill Clinton's feeble declaration that the era of big government was over, Barack Obama has announced that those days now too are gone. He demanded a wiser government, able to make money available for desperately needed investments by cutting spending and raising taxes intelligently. Above all, he said investments were needed in education, infrastructure and environmental protection.

Let there be no misunderstanding: This is not some liberal agenda. As with his health care reforms, it contains many conservative elements. He wants more control over teacher performance, something that doesn't sit well with teachers' unions. And measures dealing with infrastructure and climate change are to be dealt with primarily with the goal of increased competitiveness and independence from foreign resources — both of which will benefit the American people.

To achieve these primarily economic goals, however, the president intends to follow a socio-politically liberal road. His vision for immigration reform, his advocacy for stricter gun controls and his demand that homosexuals be granted full equality under the law are all far more progressive than the platforms any of his predecessors ever suggested.

As in his inaugural speech, his State of the Union speech was not intended to redefine American liberalism. That would be a truly bold move. But even if he has to be satisfied with winning one step at a time, he is turning the political discourse — and perhaps even all of society — toward the middle once more. The age of conservatism is approaching its end.



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