President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that he hopes the “fever” of Republican opposition will “break,” as if checks-and-balances were a disease rather than the essence of the American Constitution. Ron Fournier of the National Journal–who in the past has agreed with Democrats’ slander that Republicans are racist–worries that the president has no interest in governing and would rather keep campaigning.
He notes that Obama declared that his first priority after the shutdown was over and the debt ceiling lifted would be immigration reform. “It’s a curious choice, given the magnitude of the debt and the durability of the size-of-government debate. Does Obama really think immigration is a more serious problem? Or is it merely the best political issue for Democrats?” He is doubtful that Obama will put debt and deficits first.
Peter Beinart of the Daily Beast has a different worry–that Democrats are encouraging each other to be complacent while Republicans have won a victory in disguise. He is almost certainly wrong on the politics–his conclusion that “the GOP keeps moving the ideological goalposts and the press keeps playing along” is laughable, especially the latter part. But he is right that Democrats have run out of room on budget issues.
Republicans may not shift again. They know now, for instance, that there is no chance they can conference with the Senate on an immigration bill and emerge with their priorities intact. They gave ground on taxes during the “fiscal cliff” and have little room to maneuver. If there is any room for a fiscal deal to be done, it has to come from the president. Now that he has “won,” perhaps he will have the strength to compromise.