Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama and His plans

Analysis of the Policies of President-Elect Obama

Senator Barack Obama’s electoral victory, complete with expanded
majorities in the House and Senate, gives the Democrats control over the
legislative and administrative processes for the first time since 1994. This
has significant ramifications for the new Administration’s policies to deal
with the economic crisis, as well as domestic priorities on taxes, health care,
energy, the environment, labor relations, and trade.
Today, President-Elect Barack Obama will shift to presidential transition following
many months of campaigning. He will have just 77 days to assemble a cabinet, set
critical priorities, and prepare a federal budget (which must be submitted to congress
by February). Though he has not discussed it publicly, these plans are well underway.
The Obama team is actively discussing potential Cabinet selections and will soon
begin vetting resumes for the estimated 7,800 presidential appointee jobs which
must be filled – 1,177 require Senate confirmation – and finalizing a comprehensive
blueprint which will guide the incoming president through the transition.
While it is certain that the Obama presidency will mark a stark contrast from the Bush
years, what remains to be seen is how much external factors like the economic crisis will
impact his first 100 days and beyond. The following examines what we are likely to see
under an Obama administration on an array of pressing issues.
Tax Policy: Storm on the Horizon
A fundamental component of the federal budget is the level of revenues or taxes,
a finite resource that has implications on individuals, business and the broader
economy. Historically, tax revenue as a percent of GDP has averaged around 18.1
percent. Under current projections by the Congressional Budget Office, revenues
will grow to about 20 percent of GDP by 2012, the end of the next administration,
absent additional action. A key issue before the next administration will be the
appropriate level and composition of federal taxation. An examination of the ideas
presented during the campaign by Senator Obama provides insight into the answer.
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There are two key drivers that will greatly impact the tax debate – the
federal budget deficit and the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax
cuts. Federal budget scorekeepers estimate the deficit for this year
will be about $450 billion and could exceed $750 billion next year,
after factoring in the recent cost of the economic rescue plan recently
enacted. In addition, as the economy slows, predictions of future
revenue collections will be revised downward, putting further pressure
on the deficit and the level of revenues to run the government.
Against this backdrop is the fact that the current structure of the
tax code is set to change dramatically as a long list of tax rates and
tax credits will automatically expire December 31, 2010, creating
a large built-in tax increase. Beginning in 2011, the following
changes are set to occur:
• The top marginal tax rate for individuals increases from
35% to 39.6%
• The maximum long-term capital gains rate increases from
15% to 20%
• The top tax rate on dividend income increases from
15% to 39.6%
• The estate tax will be repealed in 2010 and then reappear in
2011 at pre-2001 high tax rates and low exemption levels
• Tax credits for children, education, and other incentives will
expire or be reduced
Given these built-in changes, President Obama and Congress
will face significant tax policy decisions. Underlying the decision
process will be two competing philosophical views on the coming
2010 changes. Proponents of extending the 2001 and 2003 tax
cuts argue that failure to act will “allow” a $1.5 trillion tax increase
to occur. From a competing perspective, extending the 2001 and
2003 tax cuts would “cost” $1.5 trillion in lost revenue to the
Treasury, highlighting the budgetary challenge of continuing the
current tax structure into the future.
Faced with the reality of the current and projected fiscal pressures,
Congress and President Obama are unlikely to agree on extending
all of the expiring tax relief. Thus, the debate will center on
prioritizing tax policies and engaging in a give-and-take exercise to
find a tax structure that fits within the current fiscal and economic
environment. Looking ahead, two overarching pressures will put
opposing constraints on the outcomes – (1) the size of the deficit
will limit the size and duration of any tax extensions or tax cuts
and (2) a stagnant or recessionary economy in 2009 and 2010 will
make it diffi cult to raise taxes too high or too quickly for fear of
making the economy worse.
Tax Proposals
According to the Tax Policy Center, Obama’s tax plan would cost
$2.9 trillion over 10 years. Hidden within these numbers are
proposals to raise taxes on business by either eliminating “corporate
welfare,” ending “incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas” or
using “tax havens,” and/or raising payroll taxes.
The incoming Obama Administration will need to decide which
proposals to enact and which proposals to put aside as a new
budget is crafted. One theme that is prevalent in the Obama plan
is the clear distinction between tax reductions for lower- and
middle-income Americans and tax increases for individuals making
$200,000 or more and couples earning $250,000 or more. For
these taxpayers, the Bush tax cuts would generally expire and they
would see higher taxes in the form of additional payroll taxes and
the phase-out of certain deductions.
The following chart outlines the various tax proposals Barack
Obama announced during the campaign:
Barak Obama’s Tax Plan
Business Provisions
Corporate Tax Rates
• No specific proposal to lower corporate tax rate
• Provide a tax credit to employers that increase the number of employees in the United States;
maintain U.S. headquarters; and provide certain benefits to employees
R&D • Make permanent R&D tax credit
Health Care
• Provide a refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent of health insurance premiums paid by a small
employer for health care for employees
Renewable Energy Production Tax Credits • Make permanent the current tax credit for the production of electricity from renewable sources
Revenue Raisers/Tax Increases
• Tax offshore income and “tax haven abuse”
• Codify economic substance doctrine
• Tax publicly traded partnerships as corporations
• Tax the “carried interest” income from investment partnerships as ordinary income rather than
capital gain
• Tighten rules on tax deductibility of executive compensation
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Barak Obama’s Tax Plan (cont’d)
Capital Gains
• Raise capital gains rate to 20% (from 15%) for individuals earning $200,000 or more
($250,000 for couples)
• Eliminate capital gains for certain investments in a small business or start-up business
• Raise tax rate on dividend income – from a top rate of 15% to top rate of 20%—for individuals
earning $200,000 or more ($250,000 for couples)
Individual Provisions
Marginal Tax Rates
• Make permanent lower income tax rates (10/15/25/28% rates)
• Restore top rates of 36% and 39.6% (unclear what income level threshold new rates apply)
Phase out of Personal Exemption and
Itemized Deductions
• Restore phase-out of personal exemptions and itemized deductions in 2009 and beyond (taxpayer
earning $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (couple))
AMT • Extend and index AMT exemption at 2008 levels (i.e., maintain current patch)
Savers Tax Credit
• Make the Saver’s Credit refundable and change credit to provide a 50 percent match of the first
$1,000 saved in a retirement plan
Tax Benefits for Families
• Make permanent $1,000 per child tax credit and marriage penalty relief
• Expand Earned Income Tax Credit
• Expand child and dependent tax credit
Seniors/Retirees • Exempt from the first $50,000 of income received by a senior/retiree
Mortgage Tax Credit
• Provide a refundable “universal mortgage credit” equal to 10 percent of mortgage interest paid up to
a maximum credit of $800 for taxpayers who do not itemize
Worker Tax Credit • Provide a refundable tax credit of 6.2% of the first $8,100 in wages to offset the current payroll tax
Estate Tax
Rates and Exemption Amount • Freeze 2009 estate tax exemption and tax rate levels—$3.5 million exemption and 45% tax rate
Payroll Tax
• Subject incomes above $250,000 to payroll taxes. (The new payroll tax would be between 2% and
4% and paid by both the employee and the employer like the current Social Security tax. All income
is already subject to the 1.45% Medicare tax)
Temporary Proposals to Address
Economic Slowdown
• Eliminate the tax on unemployment insurance for 2008 and 2009
• Allow penalty free withdrawals from retirement accounts (limited to the lesser of 15 percent
account balance or $10,000)
• Provide employer tax credit of $3,000 per employee hired in 2009 or 2010 (credit would
be refundable)
Observations on the Consequences of Obama’s
Tax Proposals
As with most policy decisions, there are winners and losers from
changes to existing tax policy. An examination of the details of the
tax proposal can provide some insight into who may benefit and
who may see tax increases under the different tax policy changes
outlined above.
• Corporate versus Pass-Through Entities – The current top
corporate tax rate is 35%. Under the Obama plan, the top
tax rate on pass-through income would increase to 39.6%
or higher. Although corporate income is taxed twice (again
when distributed as capital gain or dividend) the annual
tax for pass-through entities could increase above that
for corporations.
• Domestic over International Businesses – Senator Obama has
proposed to “tax corporations that ship jobs overseas.” Details
of the proposal have not been provided, but multinational
corporations could see a tightening or repeal of the current
rules that allow tax on foreign earnings to be deferred until
repatriated to the United States. This change would only
impact U.S. multinational corporations that have earnings
from foreign operations.
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• Cost of Capital – Senator Obama would allow the capital
gains rate to return to 20% and the top rate on dividend
income to increase to 20%. Thus, the after tax cost of
investments would increase. The shift to more and higher
corporate dividend payouts would likely end with the
increased tax on qualified dividends.
• Cost of Labor – Senator Obama would impose a new payroll
tax (between 2% and 4%) on incomes above $250,000.
The tax would be imposed on both the employee and the
employer, increasing the cost of labor. However, some
employers would qualify for the new worker tax credit (up
to $3,000 per employee) for firms that are increasing their
number of employees.
• Housing Subsidy – The proposed new universal mortgage tax
credit of up to $800 for non-itemizers would further expand
the various subsidies in the tax code for housing.
Financial Crisis/Economic Rescue
Obama envisions fiscal policy as a central tool for spurring the
economy and blunting the coming recession. To build upon the
first economic stimulus package passed in February 2008, Obama
supports passage of a second stimulus bill to inject infrastructure
and benefits-related spending into the economic engine (Obama
did not vote on the final version of the first stimulus package).
Obama has proposed a two-year, $175 billion total package, with:
• $25 billion in state relief, via a State Growth Fund designed to
prevent cuts in state and local housing, education, health care,
and heating assistance;
• $25 billion in infrastructure spending in the form of a Jobs and
Growth Fund to prevent spending cuts in road maintenance
and school repair; the Obama team estimates that this will save
one million jobs;
• Extension of unemployment benefits, and a suspension of taxes
on unemployment benefits;
• Tax credit of $3,000 per new worker hired, to stimulate
• 90-day moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners making a
good faith effort to pay off their mortgage;
• Bankruptcy reform to allow judges to modify a borrower’s
mortgage terms to make the loan affordable;
• For struggling families, permissible withdrawal of up to 15
percent of an individual’s retirement account without early
withdrawal penalty; and
• A program to lend federal money to cash-strapped state and
local governments, in the model of the Treasury Department’s
Capital Purchase Program to troubled banks.
Obama proposes to pay for these expenditures with tax increases
on families that earn over $250,000 per year and individuals
earning over $200,000 (see taxation discussion above). He will
also look to impose a windfall tax on oil companies and close
certain corporate tax loopholes to offset the stimulus’ price tag.
Should Congress not act on a stimulus in a lame-duck session
this fall, Obama will make his package one of his first priorities
in 2009.
On housing reform, Obama seeks tighter regulation of mortgage
lenders, greater transparency in the mortgage process and
stricter enforcement of mortgage-related abuses. In 2007,
Obama introduced the STOP FRAUD Act to increase penalties
for mortgage fraud and provide additional protections for lowincome
homebuyers. Going forward, he will look to increase
funding for federal and state enforcement programs, create
additional criminal penalties for mortgage fraud, hold industry
to greater reporting requirements, and expand disclosures to
borrowers under existing mortgage laws. He also hopes to create
a Home Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, to provide
borrowers with a simplified, standardized metric to more
easily compare mortgage products. Obama’s mortgage reform
approach will be decidedly more consumer protection-oriented
than McCain’s would have been, and would also include a 10
percent tax credit for 10 million mortgage borrowers who do
not itemize
With respect to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Obama has
said very little as to what his plan is for these entities and
how he might look to restructure them to bring them out of
government conservatorship. Given their current condition
and the other economic and financial regulatory problems the
new Administration and Congress currently face, there is little
expectation that the Obama Administration will look to take any
aggressive action to change the present status of Fannie and Freddie
any time soon.
Regulatory Reform
With seismic shifts in the federal government’s approach to
market intervention in recent months, the financial services
regulatory landscape will be reshaped significantly in 2009 and
beyond. Congress has clearly announced its intention to review
the regulatory structure for the industry, and with Obama, it has a
President with like-minded goals.
Obama’s record on financial services regulation is rather limited,
as his committee assignments during his senatorial tenure focused
his sights elsewhere. However, Obama has echoed his colleagues’
call for restructuring, announcing plans for expanded oversight of
financial institutions that borrow from the federal government,
transferring jurisdictional responsibilities, and improving
transparency of investment firms.
Obama will also seek to streamline federal regulatory agencies,
establish a financial market advisory group, and crack down on
trading activities that he deems are manipulating the markets.
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Regulatory reform will dominate the congressional banking agenda
in 2009 and 2010, and large-scale regulatory changes are expected.
The Treasury Department postulated its ideas for financial reform
in March 2008 with its Blueprint for a Modernized Financial
Regulatory Structure. This only set the table. The events of the past
several months – market turmoil blamed in part on regulatory
lapses, the federal government drastically increasing taxpayer
risk with direct and indirect investments in troubled financial
institutions, and the Federal Reserve significantly expanding access
to its lending facilities – have radically altered the regulatory debate
in Washington.
At a minimum, the Federal Reserve stands to augment its
regulatory jurisdiction markedly. Whether through the Fed or
another agency, Congress is likely to establish a systemic risk
regulator to police the markets, and Obama has endorsed this
approach. Other fundamental questions will be considered,
including: how best to allocate responsibility for prudential/
market stability/enforcement regulation of the markets; how best
to regulate the activities of hedge funds and other investment firms
that are largely unregulated today; how to regulate investment
banking activities within commercial banking regulatory
structures; and whether certain federal agencies should be merged
in the interest of regulatory effi ciency (e.g., SEC and Commodities
Futures Trading Commission, or the Offi ce of the Comptroller of
the Currency and the Offi ce of Thrift Supervision). The answers to
these and related questions will go a long way in determining what
our financial markets regulatory structure looks like for the next
decade and beyond.
Credit Derivatives
In the wake of the Federal Reserve’s intervention in AIG, and
after the credit market seizure created by the Lehman Brothers
collapse, Congress and the federal agencies are focusing on
credit derivatives more so than ever before. This scrutiny will
undoubtedly grow as we enter 2009.
Congress has held several hearings on credit default swaps during
the subprime crisis, and leadership has indicated its interest in
legislating a stricter approach to CDS in the 111th Congress. The
bipartisan critique has largely centered on: how to improve CDS
market transparency; how best to mitigate counterparty risk and
systemic risk posed by outstanding CDS positions; how best to
establish a clearinghouse(s) to facilitate clearing and settlement
of CDS; whether CDS should be traded on-exchange; whether
CDS contracts should be standardized; and whether CDS can and
should be regulated as insurance products.
As with regulatory restructuring, neither the Obama nor the
McCain campaigns had clearly articulated their positions on
credit derivatives aside from sharpening their rhetoric as the
election approached and the economy spiraled. Accordingly,
Obama is largely a clean slate with respect to credit derivatives,
although it can be expected that he will endorse aggressive action
to increase transparency, at a minimum, and likely more aggressive
efforts to enhance the infrastructure of, and place limits on, the
CDS market.
Miscellaneous Business, Labor and Manufacturing
A handful of other commercial issues currently dominate the
attention of lawmakers and federal offi cials – payday lending reform,
credit card abuse, union elections, infrastructure improvements – and
Obama has identified each as a priority in 2009.
In general, Obama supports a more consumer protectionoriented
approach than McCain would have. A good example
was the Obama campaign’s focus on payday lending abuses.
To protect lower-income individuals, Obama has announced
his intention to cap interest rates on payday loans at 36
percent, while seeking to provide borrowers with clearer,
simplified disclosures on loan fees, payments and penalties. He
would encourage banks and credit unions to increase smalldenomination,
short-term consumer loans.
On credit card reform, Obama would look to create a rating
system to enable consumers to evaluate the risk and benefits
on every credit card, as well as a Credit Card Bill of Rights to
deter unfair practices. He seeks to ban unilateral changes to
card terms, prohibit interest on fees, require prompt crediting
of payments, and to mandate that rate increases only apply to
future debt. Obama has well-placed Democrat allies who have
already laid the groundwork on this issue in the 110th Congress,
so reform is likely.
Organized labor will see a significantly more receptive White
House under Obama than in past years under President Bush. To
wit, Obama has received grades of 100 percent from the AFLCIO
and 94 percent from the Service Employees International
Union for his labor efforts in the Senate. Increasing the minimum
wage has been and will remain an Obama priority. In the 110th
Congress, Obama voted in favor of increasing the minimum wage
to $7.25/hour. He has announced his intention to continue to
seek minimum wage increases and will look to index the minimum
wage to inflation.
To reverse the waning influence of unions in American business
(union participation has declined from 24 percent of American
workers in 1970 to 12 percent in 2006), Obama will look to enact
the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill to make union organizing
easier by eliminating the secret ballot from union elections.
Most businesses have opposed the concept and other efforts to
increase the role of unions. If successful, Obama’s labor policies
will drastically change the dynamic of labor relations that has
characterized the past several decades in American commerce.
Obama will also look to create jobs and stimulate the economy
through expanded manufacturing and infrastructure spending in
Analysis of the Policies of President-Elect Obama
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2009 and beyond. He would double funding to the Manufacturing
Extension Partnership, which works with manufacturers to develop
and implement new technologies that improve manufacturing
effi ciency. On transportation, Obama has said that “it is
critically important for the United States to rebuild its national
transportation infrastructure,” including our roads, bridges, ports,
airports and rail. He envisages a National Reinvestment Bank
to expand federal transportation investments, paid for with $60
billion in federal funds over 10 years.
It is a well-established maxim that what candidates say about trade
policy is not always what they do when elected, and this year is
no different. It is obviously too early to tell how President Obama
will carry himself on the world stage. Trade, however, is not likely
to top the agenda for the first couple of years due to the urgency
of other issues and the growing ranks of trade critics on Capitol
Hill. Given the strong anti-trade mood in Congress, Obama is
unlikely to initiate any sweeping trade liberalizing moves, especially
considering that many incoming freshmen Democrats ran on antitrade
More specifically, during the Democratic primaries, Obama called
for a renegotiation of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. There
would be little, if any, pressure on Obama to keep this campaign
promise since renegotiation is not a top priority for his supporters.
Indeed, it is unclear how a settled NAFTA treaty could even be
re-opened. He also opposed the Colombia FTA and South Korea
FTA, so progress is unlikely next year, especially considering the
expanded Democratic congressional majority.
Buttressing this theory, Obama softened his anti-trade rhetoric
considerably once he secured the Democratic nomination. In
recent months he has said he favors free trade in general, but
that such agreements must include strong protections for labor
and environment and that trade must be “free and fair for all.”
Importantly, such conditions are also critical for attracting more
support in Congress. A top trade adviser to Obama and likely
pick for the top job at USTR, Dan Tarullo, has stated that
President Obama could be expected to devote more attention
and resources to enforcing existing trade agreements. Democrats
in Congress have been deeply critical of the Bush Administration
for failing to enforce existing trade agreements, bringing less than
half the number of cases to the WTO compared to the Clinton
Administration. Tarullo has stated that Obama would consult
closely with Congress on trade issues.
President-elect Obama has also expressed support for the
successful conclusion of the Doha Round of multi-lateral trade
negotiations, but the Obama campaign stated that the agreement
must include benefits to workers and the poorest countries.
Negotiations collapsed in July. While efforts are underway to
revive them, hope for a breakthrough rests with China and India,
which so far at least, do not appear to want a deal. Obama has also
spoken about the importance of helping workers who lose their
jobs as result of overseas competition, a shared priority of many
members of Congress.
The bright spot on the trade agenda is that despite the recent
slowdown in the global economy, US exports have been growing,
which has cushioned the blow of job losses in other sectors of the
economy. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle will be cautious
about any proposals that threaten the benefits of free trade.
This past year, energy issues dominated much of the policy agenda
as oil touched $150 per barrel and gas prices soared past $4.00 per
gallon across the country. With both oil and gas prices in retreat as
the economy hits the brakes, energy policy has lost its urgency. The
new Obama administration will have many ideas and proposals in
the energy arena, and the issue is sure to generate attention, but
not much sweeping action.
We expect the Obama administration and new Congress to
push for additional or more favorable incentives for renewable
energy. In tandem with this effort will be moves to repeal or
lessen incentives for oil companies as a means to shift from an
oil based dependency to a renewable-focused economy. This
transition is under way with long-term extensions of several tax
credits and incentives for renewable energy. Further action could
be accomplished through attempts to make these tax incentives
permanent (such as a permanent extension of the production tax
credit) or an expansion of direct subsidies for renewable energy
through the Department of Energy.
Undoubtedly, the biggest issue will be climate change and a
debate around enacting a “cap-and-trade” regime to deal with
the problem. In 2008, the Senate debated cap-and-trade without
passing a final bill. Given the state of the economy, next year
will likely yield more talk without action. Under most iterations
of a cap and trade regime, the cost of the system will fall on
manufacturing and utility companies required to pay for carbon
allocations. This cost will be too difficult to bear during a recession
or fragile economy, regardless of the environmental benefits. Thus,
until the economy recovers, it is unlikely that Congress will be able
to enact a cap-and-trade regime.
Health Care
As polls suggested for months preceding the election, a primary
concern on the minds of the American public is health care. This
was another issue that painted a deep contrast between Obama and
McCain. As a senator, Obama has voted several times to expand
funding for health care programs, including the State Children’s
Healthcare Insurance Program (SCHIP), which Obama would use
to increase health care funding for both children and certain adults,
using proceeds from tax increases in other areas. In 2007, he voted
Analysis of the Policies of President-Elect Obama
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in favor of allowing seniors to purchase cheaper prescription drugs
from Canada and other developed countries.
Obama has given health care a central position in his domestic
agenda for 2009. Seeking to expand coverage to many of the 47
million uninsured Americans, the Obama campaign trumpeted
its health care plan that “provides affordable, accessible health
care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system,
and uses existing providers, doctors and plans to implement.”
Central to the plan is a requirement that all children be covered
(coverage would not be mandatory for adults), paid for with
aforementioned tax increases on households making over
$250,000. He would require employers to pay at least some of
employees’ health care costs.
Obama would require insurance companies to cover pre-existing
conditions; seek to lower costs for business by creating a small
business tax credit to help them provide insurance to employees;
prevent insurers from overcharge doctors for malpractice
insurance; establish a national insurance exchange that includes
a range of private insurance options; and establish a tax credit
program to allow low-income families to afford premiums. He
continues to support lowering the cost of prescription drugs by
allowing importation from other countries and by encouraging
the use of generics.
Some of the highlights of Obama’s Healthcare proposals include:
Expanding Access to Coverage
• Require all children, but not adults, to have health insurance
• Require employers to offer health benefits or to pay into a
national insurance fund
• Expand Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance
• Create a national health insurance exchange through which
individuals and small companies could buy coverage from
private insurance plans or a new government insurance option
• Provide people who are currently uninsured an unspecified tax
credit to help buy insurance
Coverage for People With Existing Illnesses
• Require “guaranteed issue,” prohibiting insurance companies
from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people
who are sick
Controlling Costs
• Aim to improve prevention and management of chronic diseases
• Devote $50 million to promote health information technology
• Promote the use of generic drugs, instead of more expensive
brand-name ones
• Reduce payments to private Medicare health plans
Improving Quality
Support research into medical effectiveness and promotion of •
the best practices
Foster more reporting of quality and price data •
Address health disparities for different racial and ethnic groups •
Obama should get a quick and early victory in the health care
area by expanding those covered by the SCHIP program. He also
will look to bring down the eligible coverage age for Medicare
to 55, expanding this program from the top down. The federal
government’s swelling balance sheet and focus on the credit
crunch, however, will likely exhaust the actual and political capital
that Obama will need to pursue his more ambitious health care
plans. Although Congress will be generally sympathetic, it may be
somewhat constrained by the realities of economic turmoil in the
short to medium term.
Obama’s domestic agenda is clearly ambitious and will
undoubtedly be an aggressive repudiation of the policies of the
past eight years. It is an agenda heavily dependent on tax increases
from higher-income earners, which should be supported by a
like-minded Congress (see taxation discussion above). However,
Obama’s aspirations may be constrained by external factors
beyond his control. Even with expanded Democratic majorities in
Congress, the political reality is that the financial crisis will likely
dominate his playing field, hampering to some degree his ability to
tackle the other pillars of his domestic agenda.
As the federal government responds to the credit crunch and
growing recessionary pressure, Obama will need to dedicate
significant federal funding to expedite recovery, thereby
siphoning money from other priorities and increasing pressure
on the national deficit and debt. The final 100 days of the Bush
administration have been a churning cauldron for the President
and the markets, and Obama will quickly learn what it is like to go
from the frying pan into the fire.