Obama’s ’12 Business Bet

Bill Daley

Bill Daley

President Obama is making a riverboat gamble that by doubling down on courting big business he will unleash a surge of jobs and lead resurgent Democrats to a triumph in 2012. Whether this strategy works will determine whether the 2012 campaign resembles the Reagan reelection of 1984 or the chaotic election of 1968.

I applaud the decisions to name Bill Daley as White House chief of staff and Gene Sperling as senior White House economic adviser, as well as to retain the universally respected Pete Rouse as senior counselor. Daley is a big-league player who brings political and business experience and clout. Sperling is a creative economic policymaker and skilled dealmaker who is not “another Wall Streeter.”

If the president’s bet pays off and there is a gigantic surge of jobs before the next election, Obama in 2012 will run like Reagan in 1984. Morning in America ads will saturate the airwaves. “Right track” numbers will soar.

In the 1984 scenario the Democratic base will rally alongside the jobs. White blue-collar workers and independent voters will return to Democrats. The president will be reelected. The Senate will remain Democratic. Democrats will make a major run to regain control of the House by defeating many of the 62 Republican members from districts that supported Obama in 2008.

If the president’s courtship of big business fails and the jobs surge does not arrive the Democratic base will be in open revolt. The Republican primaries will bring bitter divisions between establishment and insurgent Republicans.

In the 1968 scenario the “wrong track” number will surge higher. The president’s popularity will collapse. If Republicans nominate a moderate they could win control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. If Republicans nominate a candidate of the right, support will surge for an independent candidate. All bets will be off for incumbents in the fourth straight change election.

Progressives share a disdain for the revolving door that has not changed under Obama. Highest-level economic policy remains a white male bastion of Wall Street on the Potomac. Highest-level Wall Street remains a white male bastion of Washington on the Hudson.

The magnitude of Obama’s bet is huge. He is reaching outside his inner circle for a chief of staff with business and political clout, and sacrificing much of the populist spirit of 2008 with a big gamble that big business will create far more jobs.

The plan could work. America has a powerful economy that could surge quickly with an increase in business and consumer confidence. If the spigot of the near $2 trillion that is now being hoarded by business is opened, and the worry of consumers turns to confidence, the Morning in America scenario could well unfold.

Brent BudowskyThe plan could fail. Our Gilded Age economy runs deep. There are reasons that business might take the money without creating the jobs. If this happens, the unrest within the Democratic primaries and throughout the nation will be far greater than insiders imagine.

Democrats should fight for the long-term jobless and public works programs and offer Republicans major capital gains tax cuts for new energy, conservation and advanced medical research, but make no mistake:

President Obama has made a very big bet, with very high stakes.

Brent Budowsky

Republished from The Hill with the author’s permission.


  1. Elaine says

    Provided he doesn’t mess with the first and second amendments and gets rid of the Unions that are holding the country hostage with the money he owes them for his last campaign. There is no longer a Democrat Party. In fact there are very few Democrats left. I think the lady Congresswoman Gifford is one of the few Democrats left. The rest like Pelosi, Reid, Boxer, Lee, Hoyer, Rangel, Van Hollen, just about all are Progressives, Socialists, Communists, Fascists, and Marxist or a combination of two or maybe more. But the 1960’s Democrats are long gone. John & Robert Kennedy hated the Communist and so did most of America. They did what they could to keep them out and I think would be shocked that in this day and time there are so many living here in the open like there is nothing to it. I do not think the general public that are so busy just trying to live day to day are aware of this and some are too young to know there ever was any other way here in the United States because we have stopped teaching them history as we were taught in school and we have found we still had things being kept from us. Like Woodrow Wilson who was a Progressive but hated blacks. We were never taught that and I do not think the kids now are being taught that. So many things in our past history that would keep our children from making the same mistakes today or in the future if they were just taught.

  2. frankbunc says

    Here are some facts:

    (1) obama will not need the Democratic Party after 2012, no matter win of lose and will divest himself and his cronies of any pretense. Hiring Daley is to get Wall Street back to giving to Obama’s next campaign.

    (2) Daley is a corporatist first and foremost with no allegience to any Party, save the Money Party. He does not care a whit for the little guy. He is primarily an accomodationist and pragmatist who follows the wind. And, he is from the Chamber of Commerce, which Obama is stupidly courting.

    (3) No small part of the entire Obama agenda comes from the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), now morphed into the Third Way, all supposedly “moderates”, “centrists”, and all convinced that they can do reasonable business with Republicans and corporations –which is absolute BS.

    (4) I have read that Sperling is a good guy – why then would he affiliate himself with this White House which is corrupt as hell?
    Sperling condemns himself by the company he keeps.

    I do not know how this works out but, the Democratic moderates and left are very high and dry. The Republicans and the Corporatists win again, really big. Most of the Progressives are seriously disappointed in Obama, to say the least. My attitude is: How can we stop him from doing much more serious harm to the country on behald of the rich and corporations. He has sold out.

    We have been sold out terribly, and there may never be another chance to turn back the tide of corporatism which has purchsed out legislatures and executives totally.

  3. says

    Braggart Gops are wont – in the manner of commenter Brag B. – to call Obama ‘socialist’. Most of them use the term simply as a convenient epithet. Those Gops who would delude themselves as well as the public may think that the epithet describes a fact, but they are mistaken. Obama has in fact been a timid blue-dog – with the socialism confined to the puppy’s bark of theory, not the full-grown dog’s bite of practice. Obama’s laughable micro-stimulus amounts to a Dem party in wholesale retreat from FDR’s successes, a party anxious to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Big USA (American-by-name) business IS creating jobs – mostly lower-paying and mostly abroad, as Reich keeps reminding us. Budowsky could be right about Obama’s strategy; but Obama might well win the bet on business and still lose the country, because the new jobs here in the USA will be too scanty and low-paid to matter.

  4. Brag Bowling says

    You are 100% correct in stating Obama has made a high stakes gamble by totally abandoning his socialist approach to economics and moving to time tested conservative economic policy. The failure of his government inspired stimulus is more than evident by the present state of our economy and jobless figures.
    I would hope that in the future, leftists will see the bankruptcy of their own vision. It has never worked before and wont work now.

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