Obama's Agenda Tilts Left—If He Can Pay for It

Tax-cut fight may define his first year
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2008 8:17 PM CST
Obama's Agenda Tilts Left—If He Can Pay for It
President-elect Barack Obama speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Will Obama be a progressive president or more of a centrist? Stop looking at Cabinet picks, suggests Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, and look instead to the president-elect's website. Silver went through Obama's policies and charted them on the political spectrum. The result tilts strongly left on domestic policy, less so on economic policy, and moves to the center on foreign affairs. The real question, though: How's he going to pay for all this?

To get much of his agenda in place, Obama needs two of three things to happen: a roll-back of the Bush tax cuts, a cut in defense spending, or a stronger than expected economic recovery. "The fight over the Bush tax cuts, it seems to me, could be the fight of Obama's first year in office," says Silver. "But in the longer term, the fight over the defense budget, which will probably trade off more or less explicitly with Obama's domestic policy prerogatives, could be the key flash point between progressives and the administration." (More Nate Silver stories.)

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