There are plenty of places Obama could find common ground with the GOP

White House/Pete Souza

President Barack Obama talks with Congressional leaders prior to the Rosa Parks statue unveiling ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Article Highlights

  • There are many areas in which leadership by the president could foster bipartisan consensus & lead to accomplishments.

    Tweet This

  • Issues ripe for presidential leadership include immigration reform, & housing finance reform.

    Tweet This

  • The White House these days seems to be inhabited by the campaigner in chief.

    Tweet This

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in US News & World Report's Debate Club in response to the question: Has Obama exercised enough leadership in dealing with Republicans in Congress?

While it is hard to expect President Obama and congressional Republicans to bridge their differences on taxes and spending anytime soon, there are a host of other areas in which leadership by the president could foster bipartisan consensus and lead to substantive accomplishments. Issues ripe for presidential leadership include immigration reform, housing finance reform, energy policy, and securing new trade agreements. Progress in these areas would have numerous beneficial impacts.

Immigration: A bipartisan coalition exists for immigration reform that both improves businesses' ability to hire skilled workers, including students who finish a degree in the United States, and addresses the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country. President Obama has vacillated between hanging back to allow Congress to work and occasionally looking to use the issue as a political wedge. A choice to engage constructively with congressional Republicans could hasten immigration reform.

Housing finance reform: Nine out of 10 mortgages are now funded by the federal government, exposing taxpayers to risk and distorting the allocation of capital. A bipartisan reform would bring in private investors to take risks on housing, but with the government as a secondary backstop to ensure that families can get mortgages across market conditions. President Obama could move this along by putting forward a specific proposal.

Energy policy: New "fracking" technology promises to boost oil and natural gas production, driving down U.S. energy prices and boosting our energy independence. A bipartisan approach would let exploration proceed while ensuring strict environmental protections. President Obama seems ready to take a first step toward a new energy future by approving the Keystone XL pipeline to transport new oil supplies from Canada and the upper U.S. Midwest into the U.S. distribution system.

Trade opening: Mr. Obama will find bipartisan support if he follows through on his promises in the recent State of the Union address to boost our trade relations with Europe and Japan. This would help our economy and those of our key allies.

The White House these days seems to be inhabited by the campaigner in chief. But much is possible if Mr. Obama were to switch to governing by looking to find common ground with Republicans. Leadership by the president in dealing with congressional Republicans is needed.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Phillip
Swagel
  • Phillip Swagel, an economist and academic, was assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department from 2006 to 2009, where he was responsible for analysis on a wide range of economic issues, including policies relating to the financial crisis and the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He has also served as chief of staff and senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers and as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board and the International Monetary Fund. He is concurrently a professor of international economics at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy.  He has previously taught at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and Georgetown University. Mr. Swagel works on both domestic and international economic issues at AEI.  His research topics include financial markets reform, international trade policy, and the role of China in the global economy.


    Follow Phillip Swagel on Twitter.
  • Phone: 202.687.4869
    Email: pswagel@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image Getting it right: US national security policy and al Qaeda since 2011
image Net neutrality rundown: What the NPRM means for you
image The Schuette decision
image Snatching failure from victory in Afghanistan
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Event Registration is Closed
Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.