In an interview with editor and publisher of the Des Moines Register, which the White House initially insisted be kept off the record, President Obama outlined a list of significant policy objectives for his second term, and the political strategies he’ll use to achieve them.
The agenda includes two major items — immigration reform and budget consolidation — that eluded him in his first term. And in an admission that will irk many of his supporters, Obama said he’d use his leverage — leverage he didn’t have in his first term — not to achieve a more progressive fiscal outcome, but to cut the same deal with Republicans he’s been pursuing for nearly two years.
“The good news is that there’s going to be a forcing mechanism to deal with what is the central ideological argument in Washington right now, and that is: How much government do we have and how do we pay for it?” Obama told the Register.
He went on to describe how automatic expiration of the Bush tax cuts and across the board spending cuts provide him leverage — but that he’ll use it to achieve “what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering the Republicans for a very long time.”
$2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in [revenue], and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.
And we can easily meet — “easily” is the wrong word — we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth.
Obama said Republicans will recognize that their opposition to immigration reform, and hard-line stance against illegal immigrants, will have been a central reason for their electoral defeat, and thus hopes to take the issue off the table by negotiating immigration legislation in good faith.
“A big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community,” Obama said. “[S]o I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.