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17.02.14

It’s all about Obamacare in America

I had this on Labour Uncut in January.

Beyond being the first African-American president, an achievement, obviously, secured on day one, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare is Barack Obama’s best, perhaps only, hope for a positive, domestic legacy. Opposition to it binds Republicans. While it’s almost 4 years since Obama signed it into law and as a result, as of 1 January 2014, 6 million Americans are receiving insurance that they otherwise wouldn’t, it remains the dominant issue in US politics.

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26.03.13

Everything else is a sideshow to economic growth

I had this on Labour Uncut last December.

Once you start thinking about economic growth, as the economist Robert Lucas famously said, it’s hard to think about anything else. The British paradox, however, is that, while almost all policy questions come back to growth, our politics so lacks serious thinking and debate on growth.

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26.03.13

Bill Clinton at policy network

I had this on Labour Uncut in November last year.

In the closing stages of the US presidential election Joe Klein voiced “the frustration that many informed voters have had with this race: Romney’s proposals for the next four years are ridiculous; the President’s are nonexistent … The vast majority of people in the vast majority of states are irrelevant to the process. The campaigns brag about their ability to microtarget voters. That is precisely what we’ve gotten: a whole lot of micro at a time when macro is sorely needed.”

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18.11.12

Obama must be more ambitious if he wins a second term tomorrow

I had this on Labour Uncut just before President Obama was re-elected:

“Obama is forty-seven years old”, noted Russell Baker prior to the 2008 presidential election. “McCain is seventy-two, old enough to be Obama’s father … In classical mythology the son must kill the father to allow for the earth’s renewal.”

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18.11.12

Obama’s campaign started going wrong at the DNC

I had this on Labour Uncut after Mitt Romney’s strong performance in the first presidential debate:

My most recent visit to the USA coincided with the two weeks of the Democrat and Republican national conventions. This was an immense treat. I could flick through the TV channels and find opinions to suit any taste. Every evening ended with a big speech forming the next chapter of the election.

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11.09.11

Will Rick Perry be the Republican Clinton?

I had this on Labour Uncut during August.

At the start of May I argued that President Obama was as vulnerable to a challenger emerging as the seemingly ascendant George W H Bush was at the same time in 1991. This view was then out of kilter with the beltway view of Obama as a two term president. Subsequently the US has suffered an unprecedented credit downgrade, its economy has continued to struggle and grumbles about Obama, most recently due to his holidaying at a “millionaires’ playground”, have got louder.

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11.09.11

Obama and Merkel can still make history, not be its victims

I had this on Labour Uncut in August.

People make their own history, as Karl Marx knew and Angela Merkel and Barack Obama cannot deny, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. Over hundreds of years America has evolved to a fiercely divided, uncompromising polis wedded to a system demanding compromise. Over decades Europe has achieved monetary union. Thousands of years of history hang over its fiscal consummation, which is required to avoid collapse and further calamity. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

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11.09.11

USA: checks and balances in the age of chaos

I had this on Labour Uncut at the start of August.

“I don’t want to talk to anyone about anything right now,” she exploded. With tears in her eyes, she retreated to a back room.

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30.05.11

Small man, big world

I wrote this for Labour Uncut today.

The financial crisis was unprecedented and complex. But the left’s interpretation of it tended to be straight-forward. Banks and bankers were bad. Government and politicians were good. Government saved the banks from themselves and would stimulate economies. This enlarged role for government made a “progressive moment” inevitable. Yet government is now being scaled back and the left is out of power across Europe.

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30.05.11

Obama should pretend there’s a Republican Clinton

I wrote this recently for Labour Uncut when I was in holiday in the USA.

I recently saw a TV pundit – admittedly on Fox News, which I watch for perverse laughs – assert that Barack Obama will not win the next presidential election. Another pundit came back that he would, because the Republicans don’t have anyone to beat him. This is the prevailing establishment view. Andrew Neil recently tweeted: “A prediction you can hold me to: Obama will serve a second term”.

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19.04.11

Obama should be bolder than Brown

In some ways American politics now reminds me of British politics six months or so before the last general election.

Let’s begin with the challenge posed to America’s elites by E. J. Dionne Jr in the Washington Post:

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24.08.10

Clive Crook also says: “Get a grip, Obama”

I called upon President Obama to get a grip the other day. I don’t make such calls lightly and nor, I am sure, does Clive Crook. But Mr Crook also made such a call in the FT today when he wrote:

“When race came to the fore in his presidential campaign, in the form of the Jeremiah Wright scandal, he responded brilliantly, with a fine unifying speech that challenged the country to be calm, sober and enlightened. The mosque debate was a moment for a speech of that kind.

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