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Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan

 
Reece2076
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03/20/2009 01:24 PM
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Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan
President Obama has a role model. It’s not Abraham Lincoln, to whom he has already been compared. And it’s not FDR, despite talk of a new Depression.

Obama is, rather, following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan.

Like the Gipper, Obama is using arcane budget rules to push for massive, transformational changes in American life.

That’s why lawmakers and old political hands from both parties have compared the new president’s budget strategy to Reagan’s a generation ago.

Like Reagan, Obama has pressed for an ambitious budget that seeks seminal shifts in spending, the tax code and the size of deficits. What’s more, he’s doing this while trying to pull the country out of the worst recession since the one Reagan faced.

The Republican icon and the newly inaugurated president come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but their tactics and strategy contain evident parallels.

Obama’s budget, like Reagan’s, has clearly shown how the president will go in a different direction than his predecessor, said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.).

“It sets goals, meaningful goals,” Levin said. “It’s more than just a piece of paper.”

“He’s trying to be equally transformative,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee.

A successful early budget push could also help Obama set the tone for the rest of his time in office.

“The budget was indeed a big win for Reagan and would be for Obama, and they both had agendas that were reflected in the first budgets,” said Stan Collender, a former Democratic aide on the Senate and House Budget committees.

The common thread between the Reagan and Obama budgets runs through their legislative strategies, said William Hoagland, who was a budget aide to Senate Republicans during the Reagan years.

Reagan, seeing his budget as the vehicle to get his conservative agenda through Congress, took advantage of the special budget reconciliation rules to push Congress to approve spending cuts in 1981. By using the reconciliation process, Reagan’s GOP allies quickly ushered Reagan’s savings proposals through a divided Senate. Obama’s team is now considering budget reconciliation rules, in which bills need only a simple majority to pass, to push through controversial programs such as healthcare and energy reform.

“I think this administration has looked back on Reagan and said, ‘He implemented his changes on domestic public policy ... through the budget process. He took advantage of the budget process. We’re going to do the same thing,’ ” said Hoagland, now a vice president for public policy at CIGNA Corp.

Collender, now a partner at Qorvis Communications, and other Democrats said the analogy isn’t perfect, noting that the two presidents differ on why they projected large deficits and that they aren’t the only presidents to offer ambitious plans.


Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), who was a congressional aide during Reagan’s presidency, said Obama’s bold budget has more to do with his campaign promise of change than with a conscious effort to use Reaganite tactics. The senator noted that President Clinton proposed a big budget in his first year, too.

“That’s why you run for office, to try to have your input, to have a blueprint for what you’re doing,” Kaufman said.

But Obama himself has pointed to Reagan rather than to Clinton, a fellow Democrat, as a model for the kind of change he seeks.

“I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not,” the future president said in January 2008, in the heat of the presidential primaries.

“[Reagan] put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.”
The new president shares the Gipper’s sense of timing and his ability to connect with the country, said Ron Reagan, the former president’s son.

“I think [Obama] perceived the moment correctly,” said Reagan, now a talk-show host for the left-leaning Air America. “He saw that my father was able to go over the heads of Congress, as he liked to put it, and even go beyond the heads of media as well to speak directly to the American people. He was an effective communicator, and so is President Obama.”

Carl Cannon, co-author of Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy, said that both Obama and Reagan unleashed their campaign machinery to drum up support for their budgets. Just as Reagan publicly stumped for his budget plan, Obama is turning to his online army to try to win support from centrists and conservatives in Congress.

“Reagan pulled out all the stops,” Cannon said. “He knew how important it was ... What Obama has done is he has unleashed the same tools, ginning up the base.”

Obama is even turning to some of the same budget tricks that Reagan pulled. Just as the Republican downplayed the effect of his tax cuts and spending, Obama appears to be doing so, too; independent deficit projections to be released Friday by the Congressional Budget Office are expected to be larger than Obama’s projected deficits.

Reagan put in assumptions about budget deficits just as Obama has done, Cannon said.

“It had the same effect,” Cannon said. “Reagan was able to say the deficit was smaller than it was really going to be.”

[link to thehill.com]
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Anonymous Coward
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03/20/2009 01:29 PM
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Re: Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan
Let's hope not. Reagan was an ignorant actor controlled by those who put him in place. The fact that things worked out for him is more a result of being in the right place at the right time. Having competent staffers helped.

Obama may have the latter, but I don't think the international forces in play are working in his (our) favor.
Anonymous Coward
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03/20/2009 01:33 PM
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Re: Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan
I'm still waiting for a president we compare to:

Thomas Jefferson.
GraftedPromise U$$ofA
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03/20/2009 01:37 PM
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Re: Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan
.
... thought Reagan LOWERED taxes? ...
.
... PeBO seems to be taking the play-book of Hitler to heart ...
.
Anonymous Coward
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03/20/2009 01:40 PM
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Re: Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan
There is no precedent for what BO's doing to this country. He can't be compared to any other president.
Anonymous Coward
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03/20/2009 03:29 PM
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Re: Obama is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan
Obama is not worthy to shine Ronald Reagan's shoes.

Offense intended.

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