Friday, 9 September 2011

Obama throws down gauntlet to Republicans

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An assertive President Obama set out his stall for Congress to back his American Jobs Act. The interesting part of that speech was the way it was delivered and the strong, resolute delivery of the speech. Here was a President facing a tough election battle as the economy has slowed and ground almost to a halt after previously showing signs of a recovery. But more than a simple desire to win, we saw Barack Obama demonstrating leadership and purpose which frankly has been missing at times as he has tried to grapple with the problems of the economy and the consistent right wing attacks by GOP contenders.
Vice President Joe Biden
A word of merit for Joe Biden who was just behind the President’s right shoulder at the Congressional speech; he is an unswerving, loyal lieutenant that has proven to be a first rate Vice President. He works tirelessly behind the scenes and backs the President to the hilt. He doesn't show signs of his own ambition or politicking to undermine the President. That is a rare example of what a Vice President should be. He was on his feet applauding the President and Obama can be sure that Biden will use his influence to try and bring Republicans on board to get the AJA through Congress. Nevertheless, it is certain to face a very difficult ride and given the strength of the Tea Party values amongst Republicans, the AJA may well fail to pass. If so, the Republicans will play into Obama's hands. On the other hand if they successfully amend the Bill to their liking they could turn it around as a weapon against the President, which could mean he has to veto his own Bill.
There are fourteen months to go before the presidential election and the President needs the economy to improve. The hard truth though is that his proposed jobs act will only give a mild stimulus to the US economy and the underlying problems of the energy deficit and the artificial weakening of the Chinese yuan remain. It is difficult to force the Chinese to alter their exchange rate policy and unless there is a readiness to damage the environment then changes to the energy deficit are limited (electric vehicle technology is being proposed as one answer to the problem) . America needs to create jobs and more wealth through making its economy therefore, more dynamic, flexible and productive. There is still time for the trend to change towards reducing unemployment and increasing the money in the wallet and purse of the average American but time is running out.
Governor Rick Perry
Whilst the Republicans should be coming down the final stretch ten yards ahead of the president remarkably the voters are reticent of the GOP contenders. Even Texas Governor Rick Perry can only manage a small lead in the polls and that is during his current honeymoon period before the full scrutiny of his policies and past has been put under the microscope.  
With some radical and even off the charts extreme policies being espoused by Perry on Social Security the field is still open for Romney or even Palin (if she finally enters the race, which I think she will) to take the primaries. 
 US Ambassador to China
Jon Huntsman Jr
The President needs to ratchet up improvements in the economy where he can, hope for a radical GOP candidate to face him in the election and he needs a bit of luck. If those three things happen then Obama has a reasonable chance of success. He is a powerful campaigner and remains the favourite to win a re-election (but by a tiny margin).
However, if a more sensible GOP candidate like Jon Huntsman was to pull off a miracle GOP nomination (he is polling around 1%) then I think Obama will lose. But with Rick Perry, Bachmann and Romney slugging it out that scenario of a centrist winning the nomination is not going to happen. Obama knows the GOP struggle of exposing weaknesses and extremes in the Republican candidates can only help his chances.

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