Will gridlock ruin Obama's second term? Top advisers weigh in. (+video)
President Obama can use executive action and the bully pulpit, pointed out Dan Pfeiffer and Gene Sperling at a Monitor breakfast. Another topic at the breakfast was the president's pending decision on the next Fed chair.
Political polarization and gridlock in Washington will not prevent President Obama from having a successful second term, two of his top advisers told reporters Wednesday at a breakfast sponsored by the Monitor.
True, Congress is divided – the Senate is in Democratic hands, the House in Republican – and the president hasn’t signed any major legislation since his second inaugural in January. But senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer and Gene Sperling, director of Mr. Obama's National Economic Council, said the president has plenty of tools to work with. And, they add, don’t rule out the possibility of breakthroughs in Congress.
“The gridlock of the moment is not predictive of what is going to happen in the future on big issues,” Mr. Pfeiffer said.
“If we’d had this breakfast in August of 2011, and I had said to you, the president is going to go out and he’s going to campaign and he’s going to make the case for protecting tax cuts on the middle class and raising the rates on the wealthy back to what they were under Bill Clinton, you all would have laughed me out of the room,” Pfeiffer said.
In December 2012, “the president achieved that campaign promise.”
Ditto comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate in June with 68 votes, including the backing of Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, he said.
What Pfeiffer didn’t say is that the issue is stalled in the House, though it’s not dead.
Aside from divided government, Pfeiffer blamed internal Republican divisions for contributing to gridlock.
“The Republican Party is at a crossroads in a lot of ways,” he said. “Some of the biggest fights are now not between Democrats and Republicans, but between Republicans and Republicans.”