If anyone doubts Obama’s intentions, just listen to senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer explaining the president’s economic proposals on “Meet the Press.” “Some of them are going to be legislative proposals Republicans may not love, but we’ll push them on them,” Pfeiffer said. “Some of them will be executive actions.” In any event, Pfeiffer pledged the White House will use “every lever we can” to get what Obama wants.
Republicans should take such a strategy very seriously. In the 2006 midterm elections, the lame duck George W. Bush lost the House and Senate. If there was any message from the election, it was that Americans were sick and tired of the Iraq war, which was going very badly. And yet somehow Bush shaped the political conversation in early 2007 to focus on how big a surge of troops was needed in Iraq. Bush leveraged his fundamental constitutional powers as commander-in-chief and his White House megaphone to frustrate the new Democratic majority.
That doesn’t have to happen this time. Republicans have the mojo and the momentum. They just got elected, have fresh faces in their new majority, and have several ready-to-go agenda items that had been bottled up in the Senate under now-former Majority Leader Harry Reid. If they are united, and if they are smart, Republicans can push Obama into a defensive crouch.