If history is any guide, Obama has about a year to notch major accomplishments before midterm politics—and the shadow of lame-duck status—undermine his effectiveness. But it is equally true that by failing to lay out a detailed agenda in 2012, Obama forfeited his ability to claim a specific mandate.
When Bush won a close election in 2004, he said he planned to spend his political “capital”—and pushed a Social Security privatization scheme he had never proposed in the campaign. It quickly went down in flames.
Obama’s best hope is that he can hammer out compromises on issues that would yield political dividends for both sides. Mann says the president could make progress on immigration, energy, and education. But it would be hard to argue, given the vagueness of his campaign, that he won a specific mandate.
Barack Obama ran on a “Not-Romney” platform. He won reelection, but so did most of the House Republicans. The Democrats control the Senate but they don’t have enough votes to defeat a filibuster.
In short, the people voted for more gridlock.
Considering the election result and the Supreme Court decision last June, I think it’s pretty clear that Obamacare will be fully implemented. When it goes into effect people will find how bad it really is.
I think we will also see some or all of the Bush tax cuts expire, and some version of the Dream Act will be passed. I doubt we will see significant immigration reform or any real progress on the budget deficit. Mostly we’re gonna see a lot more kick-the-can stuff as neither side appears willing to face reality just yet. “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow” seems to be the bipartisan policy in Washington these days.
That’s what the people voted for, and that’s what they’re gonna get.