After the debt deal, will voters throw the bums out again next year?
While Washington politicians are patting one another's backs for getting a debt deal, voters are angry enough to shove those backs right out the door. On the right, there is disappointment that the compromise barely erases a drop of the nation's red ink; on the left, a mass feeling of dismay that the agreement was struck largely on Republican terms. In the sensible center, voters are disgusted by the capital's dysfunction, partisanship and failure to focus on job creation.
Does that mean Obama will be a one-term President?
The White House avoided a financial and political calamity by getting a pact, but the President now has fewer cards to play. Despite the deal, there is none of the bipartisan bonhomie that is required to address jobs, immigration, energy or any of the Administration's other priorities. There's no money to pursue the kinds of investments in education and infrastructure that are vital to the President's vision for economic growth. And having signed into law a debt-reduction agreement about which no one is enthusiastic, Obama has to find ways to separate himself from an unpopular political subculture in time for re-election.
Where does that leave Republican hopefuls?
The GOP's White House hopes rest on running with twin campaign themes: being anti-Washington and pro-jobs. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann were all quick to criticize the debt deal as too little, too late. But the onus remains on the candidates to explain specifically how, if elected, each would change Washington and foster job growth--something none of them have done so far.