Commentary

Obama’s Top Agenda Item? Health Care…Recession…Financial Regulation, or….

The Washington Post is reporting on Pres. Obama’s return to the U.S. after a week focused on internatinal affairs. The President is engaged in aggressive, LBJ-style lobbying for health care reform. Here’s the comment from the reporter that caught my eye:

“The tough talk in the Rose Garden gave way hours later to behind-the-scenes Lyndon B. Johnson-style lobbying, as Obama pledged in a pair of private meetings with Democratic lawmakers to stake his political capital on this year’s top agenda item.

“I just want to put everybody on notice because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone,” he said. “Inaction is not an option.”

So, this year’s “top agenda item” is health care. I thought it was the economic recession. No, maybe it was financial regulation. Or perhaps Afghanistan. Or the automobile industry bailout.

Hmmm. A lot of agenda items seem to be making it to the “top” of the president’s list. Once again, this is an indication of Obama’s governing style: crisis politics. The question is how long he can do this and be effective.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.