Bin Laden, Political Capital, and Public Borrowing

More

The killing of Osama bin Laden doesn't change Obama's foreign-policy calculations very much, in my view--the pros and cons of an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan, for instance, are much the same as before--but it does give the president some fresh capital to spend on other good causes. Dealing with the long-term fiscal problem is one. This is the subject for my column today in the FT: Now Obama must lead on the deficit.

Under present conditions, the administration's tools for invigorating the recovery are limited, to be sure. However bold and decisive the president chooses to be, he cannot just decree faster growth. But if Democrats and Republicans moved immediately to raise the debt ceiling and promptly to clarify the medium-term fiscal picture - a task that cannot wait until 2013 - they would improve confidence and lessen the risk of a second recession.

The president can play a crucial role in this. Merely calling for unity achieves nothing. But the bin Laden operation gives him fresh political capital, though perhaps not for long. He should use it to impose himself - talking past a stone-deaf Congress to the electorate; advancing cold, clear choices about curbing long-term borrowing; thus making space, should it prove necessary, for renewed short-term stimulus. They call it leadership.

Politically, to jump so decisively into this quarrel would be risky. Few, despite Abbottabad, are betting Mr Obama will dare. It's not that he can't; for some reason, he won't.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In