Chapter 11: Ambition, Necessity, and Polarization in the Obama Domestic Agenda

Ambition, Necessity, and Polarization in the Obama Domestic Agenda

Ambition, necessity, and polarization in the Obama domestic agenda
ChristopherH.Foreman, Jr.

Complex forces shape each presidency and the most important of them lie beyond the president's control. The system is famously separated.1 In the best of times Congress can be cajoled but never commanded. Nomination may (and once did), but today regularly does not, lead to prompt Senate confirmation. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) may assiduously scrub and fine-tune a departmental or program budget with the result merely an opening bid, rarely matching a final outcome.

Beyond such permanent systemic challenges lie specific legacies bequeathed by a president's predecessors. Barack Obama might be thought to have drawn from history's deck a very bad hand indeed: two questionably ...

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