Obama the Warrior

Making good use of his State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out a sequence of politically charged sentences, which will portray him as a combative chief executive. In short, he intends to defy his destiny as a “lame duck,” which always characterizes the last two years in the White House.

In a longer speech than usual, Obama resorted to intimidation on more than one occasion. In a tone of conviction (more convincing than normal), he warned the Republicans that any attempt to scale back reforms, both those that have been passed and those that are yet to come, would be met subsequently with the swift use of … his veto! What if the Republican majority, in place since the madness of the last round of congressional elections, decides it wants to intensify sanctions against Iran? The answer would be nyet. Ditto for medical insurance, the Keystone XL pipeline, immigration, etc. In short, on every topic that counts, Obama intends to make use of the prerogatives accorded to him as the chief executive.

After hearing his speech, one political fact was clear, or rather, confirmed. Let us explain. The day after — and we mean literally the day after — the midterm elections, which resulted in a victory for the Republicans in both houses, the president set to work conserving a certain influence on the composition of the political program and its concretization by linking initiatives to proposals. It is as if he wanted the Republicans to struggle in following his constant maneuvering. It is as if he wanted to wear them out by having several goals active at once. His speech the day before yesterday was in this vein.

For instance, he has added a very “large,” one-off measure called middle-class economics, or the economy of the middle classes. This entails introducing the notion of “economic justice,”* as Obama put it, by using the money gained by charging the rich a higher level tax to finance income bonuses for the middle class. More precisely, the chief executive wishes to eliminate such fiscal niches, raising the capital gains tax to 28 percent, the level that prevailed while Ronald Reagan was president, modifying the tax profile pertaining to inheritance, etc. Equally, he intends to make the large banks — those that have federal charters, such as Bank of America, Citigroup and others — contribute by making them pay a new kind of tax.

It is written in the stars that the changes envisaged for reducing the gap between rich and poor, which has reached quite a menacing level in terms of social cohesion, will not become law before the next presidential election. But … by evoking economic justice, by underlining that everything must be done to re-establish, not establish, a context in which “everyone who makes an effort can generate an income,”* Obama worked his way into the debate of the next election campaign.

Here and there, in fact, Obama stated and repeated that the challenge of redistributing wealth — which, incidentally, he had identified as a major task for the current generation way before the day before yesterday’s speech — will be at the heart of the upcoming election debates, whether the primaries or the presidential election itself. Here and there, he stated that Republicans have one, and only one, year of disagreement with his words and actions. Beyond that, they will be considered obsessed with obstructionism.

That being said, we notice that the Republican lack of faith these days is — to be polite — beyond belief. What is it all about? Mitch McConnell, the senator from Kentucky, assures us that the avalanche of good news on the economic front, the most notable of which is a reduction of the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent, is a result of the Republican victory in the legislative elections last November, not those in November 2013. In short, the idiocy is still on the horizon for 2016.

*Editor’s note: Accurately translated, this quote could not be verified.

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