In the past week, I have seen mainstream media stories explaining that the Obama White House plans to use the President’s “political capital” to deliver on the climate change bill, health care reform, and the Sotomayor confirmation.
As I noted in a previous post, one of the reasons that these initiatives require him to expend any capital at all in a majority Dem Congressional session is the breakneck speed with which he claims to want it all done. Add the arm-twisting he has already had to perform to get the stimulus bill through, and more recently to get what fragile buy-in he has for his auto bailout, and there must be a lot of sore shoulders in the Capitol.
The question is, how much capital does he have and can it be meted out judiciously enough to be effective and not exhausted?
Also, you have to ask where the capital derives from. He has disappointed many on the far left with his moves on Afghanistan, privacy/security policy, detention and interrogation, and even gay rights with “don’t ask don’t tell.” Organizing for America is pushing the base hard on all of these issues; but, as the saying goes, when you have many priorities, you have none.
Getting back to energy, these political capital competitors have to give pause because there are real political fractures in the Dem coalition on renewables, carbon cap-and-trade and other key policy proposals.
Health care is a war in and of itself – one that Clinton couldn’t win. Then there are the REAL wars: in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Mideast peace process, the North Korean escalation and all the other balls in play.
Maybe the White House thinks that because real capital (over $1T in spending) has been so available no matter how many times they seem to go back to the well, the same will be true of the political equivalent.
But, Ben Bernanke can’t just crank up the presses and print more of that once Obama spends it.