Bin Laden, Political Capital, and Public Borrowing

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.
Presented by

Adults Who Live In Treehouses

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

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

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

More in Politics

Just In