Morning Bell: A Mandate for What?

Conn Carroll /

Yesterday the Center for American Progress boldly proclaimed that Barack Obama’s 6-point popular voter victory represented “A Progressive Mandate.” Really? How many millions of dollars did the Obama campaign spend on TV commercials in the closing weeks to convince Americans that Obama would enact policies the Center for American Progress supported? Zero. Meanwhile, Obama did blanket the airwaves with an ad claiming The Heritage Foundation, a well-established conservative think tank, supported his tax policies. Obama’s claims were clearly false. But his campaign’s insistence on airing the ads after our continued objections proves that Obama did not obtain his vote totals by running as a progressive.

Just ask Clinton special counsel Lanny Davis, who writes in the Wall Street Journal today:

This is a man who defended the right to gun ownership under the Second Amendment; who arguably ran to the right of McCain on broader-based tax cuts for the middle class; who defied his left-purist base by supporting (with more controls) the president’s terrorist surveillance program; who talked of pay-as-you-go fiscal policies aimed at restoring balanced budgets; who insisted to black audiences that black men take more responsibility for their families; and who talked boldly of aggressive military action in Pakistan to take out al Qaeda and bin Laden.

There is clearly a yawning gap between what the left expects from an Obama presidency and the rhetoric that Obama actually ran on. As to who the real Obama is — a pragmatic centrist or a progressive ideologue — our guess is as good as anyone’s. After all, Obama has never governed anything, so there is no track record to make predictions.

Early indications are,  once sworn in Obama will move quickly on some small-bore items such as expanding Medicaid funding, lifting the federal embryonic stem cell funding ban, and extending time limits on equal pay lawsuits. An economic stimulus package will surely be next, and that is where Obama will begin to be tested. Unions will demand their long-sought goal to end the secret ballot be included. Their employees, especially the U.S. auto industry, will also come to Congress with their hand out.

Will Obama give in to his leftist base and pass a stimulus bill closer to the $300 billion Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been asking for, or the $150 billion Obama campaigned on? With economists projecting deficits in the $1.5 trillion range, will Obama stick to the fiscal discipline he campaigned on, or will he let a Democrat Congress spend like drunken sailors? In almost every speech, Obama promised that tax cuts for 95% of Americans would be a key part of his “trickle up” economic philosophy. Will these promises even see the light of day in Obama’s first economic stimulus legislation?

The voters who gave Obama his margin of victory are not nearly as liberal as Congress. In a poll of 12 swing congressional districts, 11 of which switched from Republican to Democrat, 73% of voters prefer the federal government to focus on “creating economic conditions that give all people opportunities to create wealth through their own efforts” over “spreading wealth from higher income people to middle and lower income people.” The new occupant of the White House and liberals on Capitol Hill ignore these American voters at their peril.

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