Obama's Relevance Hinges On Unifying Party Behind Him
by Jules Witcover
President Obama faces a growing impression, fanned to be sure by his Republican critics, that he somehow has become irrelevant, especially in the wake of the Obamacare rollout fiasco.
The president was forced into a defensive crouch over that bureaucratic disaster. He not only had to do all he could to unravel the mess; he also had to acknowledge that he had misled the public in saying Americans could keep the health-care insurance they had if they wanted to.
Now he is attempting to pivot public attention to the more defensible issue of income inequality, and its most obvious and immediate partial remedies -- extending the long-term unemployment benefits that were cut off on
On the proposed minimum wage boost, from
The task may seem monumental in light of the Obamacare albatross. But the possibility remains that once the registration process gets rolling at top speed, and new health-care recipients experience the benefits of the law, much of the public confusion and disapproval will be dispelled. Eliminating the barrier of pre-existing conditions to insurance coverage, along with extended youth dependent coverage, should help Obama get over the hump.
The president can also take some solace in the fact that the previous Democrat in the
In a late 1995 news conference, a reporter suggested Clinton had diminished clout in coping with a
Obama had already been re-elected when the Obamacare calamity occurred, but he is still laboring with the Republican majority in the House that brought him much grief in his first term. The Democratic prospects of gaining control there, and maintaining the party's narrow majority in the
With a lame-duck president in the Oval Office, the opposition-party wolves remain at Obama's door, despite the recent modest bipartisan budget compromise led by former
For this reason, the incumbent president cannot afford to slough off the continued coolness of his own party's liberal wing, now frequently relabeled as progressive, if he hopes to re-energize his administration's political power. In seizing on income inequality and the fight for increasing the minimum wage as cornerstones of his
As Republican presidential hopefuls for 2016 jockey for position, they will be hard-pressed to buck Obama's push for the higher minimum wage. One obvious reason is their need to address their party's weakness among women, African-American and Hispanic voters, as demonstrated by the Romney candidacy in 2012. All these voting blocs are particular victims of income inequality, ratifying the Democratic political strategy for the new year and beyond.