Last week, many liberals were disheartened by Scott Brown winning the senate seat once occupied by Liberal Lion Ted Kennedy. The right of this country, ever moving further and further to the fringe, celebrated Brown's win as a referendum on President Barack Obama's agenda. It was one of many great disappointments for the left of this country, after the death of Kennedy, the lax healthcare reform bills and the retirement announcements of many long standing stalwarts of the Democratic party, and many hoped this would cause Obama to, like Bill Clinton in 1994, move to the right of the political spectrum. However, ironically, since the win, the President and Congress have taken bolder steps to the left since these cuts, including being stronger on financial reform, pushing back against campaign finance and creating a middle class task force.
According to many sources, Obama's Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Economic Advisor Lawrence Summers have since lost their influence after failing to achieve any type of financial reform. In turn, Paul Volcker, Chair of the Economic Recovery Board and former head of the Federal Reserve, has gained more influence. Last week, Obama called out big banks and demanded the current financial reform bill include a consumer protection committee as well as limiting mergers between banks.
Another sign of Obama moving further to the left came when in this past Saturday's weekly address, he called out the supreme court's decision to overturn a 107-year old ruling on campaign finance reform, calling it an assault on democracy. As somebody who has rarely made declarative statement, this was a shocker to hear from the President.
Finally, at the State of the Union Address, Obama demanded that Congress work to create a Middle Class task force, begin creating jobs in infrastructure and working on Climate change legislation. He demanded lifting the burdens of college student loans and working to tax bonuses of bankers. Compared to his previous joint address to Congress in September, which was filled with vagueness and non-declarative statements, this address was bolder and more dignified.
This isn't to say Obama is a full blown liberal. This past Monday, he announced plans for a spending freeze and is still adamant about the confirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's second term. However, the seeming about face could be one of the greatest examples of getting back on track in American politics.