Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Broadening Obama's Coattails

As the GOP wannabe dogfight gets uglier, the actual President is on a winning streak that parallels Linsanity in the sports world.

In eye-to-eye confrontation, John Boehner has just blinked after more than a year of being held hostage by his Tea Party caucus, backing not only a bill to extend a $100 billion payroll tax rollback without spending cuts to pay for it but agreeing to extend unemployment benefits and prevent a large slash in reimbursements to doctors who accept Medicare.

In addition, the Speaker is backpedaling on a crucial $260 billion highway bill, sending it to the House floor in three pieces to avoid defeat by using a procedural maneuver that would allow it to be recombined after each segment passes. Such a bypass might overcome intra-party wrangling over GOP legislation estimated to leave a $78 billion hole in the highway trust fund.

In the context of last year’s temper tantrum leading to a national credit downgrade, this signals a turning point for responsible Republicans who finally recognize that, if they don’t find a way to legislate, they may be hammered at the ballot box in November for wall-to-wall obstruction in Congress.

Such anxiety will only be heightened by a new poll showing President Obama with a solid lead over each of his potential GOP opponents, including 48 percent to 42 over Romney, who was even with him last month, and 49 percent to 41 over Rick Santorum, even before he undergoes a barrage of negative ads from Mitt’s SuperPACS, and 54-36 over Newt Gingrich, who throws a Hail Mary pass by sending his third wife out on the hustings.

It’s a long, long time between now and November, but the President’s coattails are beginning to look broad enough and strong enough to carry Democrats back into control of both houses of Congress.

That would be the equivalent of the New York Knicks, with their new superhero from nowhere, getting into the playoffs.

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