Fever Breaks

By Isaac Cohen*

During his reelection campaign, in the summer of 2012, President Barack Obama said he expected the Republican “fever” against fiscal policy would break, as soon as it was evident that he could not run again.

The first year of the President’s second term did not confirm the prediction. In fact, throughout last year, the “fever” increased. Among other factors, the bumpy launch of the health care legislation contributed to decrease the President’s job approval.

However, bipartisan decisions approved by the end of last year and this year are evidence that the “fever” is breaking.  The bipartisan, two year budget agreement approved in mid December was the first signal. Then, in the first week of February, the stalled farm bill was approved, authorizing almost $1 trillion in spending for the next 10 years. Finally, the federal government was authorized by Congress, with no conditions attached, to borrow until March 2015.

Part of the credit for the adoption of these bipartisan decisions must be given to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who pushed them through despite strong opposition from members of his own party and influential conservative non-governmental organizations. The increase in the debt ceiling illustrates what this meant. The measure was approved by the House 221 to 201, with the support of only 28 Republican Representatives and 199 against it.

*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington Office.

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