PoliticsOhio: After Election, President Obama Faces Fiscal Cliff Challenge

Nov 9, 2012

With the election decided, all eyes turn to January, when mandatory across-the-board cuts will be enacted unless Congress makes a deal to solve the budget deficit. Emily McCord is joined by Bill Hershey for this week's PoliticsOhio. He's covered every Ohio Presidential election since 1980 and speaks to McCord about the challenges President Obama has to avoid sequestration cuts and about how changing demographics affects future races and the importance of swing state Ohio

McCord: Welcome to PoliticsOhio Im Emily McChord. Now that the election is over we look to what's next for President Obama's second term in office and I'm joined today by Bill Hershey He's a political reporter and has covered every Ohio presidential election here since 1980. Thanks for being here today.

Hershey: Oh, it’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

M: Let's talk about the fiscal cliff it has major implications for the Miami Valley and Ohio in general because of those possible looming defense cuts can we just start out, what would this mean for our area?

H: From what I’ve read we have  27,000 jobs at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and then 10,000 or more that are connected to the base, some of these jobs could be lost if we go over the fiscal cliff. And this would reverberate through the Miami Valley economy it wouldn't just be limited to the base, our whole economy is impacted largely by Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

M: We spoke earlier in the week and you said The President is a great campaigner but less so at bringing people together, what is The President going to have to do to get this Congress to reach a deal?

H: The President has to get with the congressional leaders and they have to find common ground. He has more freedom to do this now that he has been reelected because he won’t be on the ballot again. If he's campaigning for anything now he's campaigning for a legacy that brought the American economy back to strength and ended the partisan bickering. He talked in his first campaign that we are not Red America or Blue America we are Red, White and Blue America or we're all Americans. Well this is his chance to do that and he has to show more resolve, I think, than he did in his first term. No question that Republicans were recalcitrant didn’t want to deal with him, but somehow he has to be willing to lock them in a room together with him until they come up with a deal and find that common ground without giving up on his principles.

M: So how is that going to happen, we remember how the 2011 negotiations went it seemed like they had found a lot of common ground and then Speak Boehner pulled out at the last minute, how is this going to be different this time around?

"This will be a test of leadership for Speaker Boehner as well as for President Obama."

H: I think the difference, as I said, is The President isn't running for reelection, but we don’t know if it is going to be different for the Republicans because we did think there was a deal between The President and Speaker Boehner but to his right, members of the Tea Party caucus, others who we were more conservative than Speaker Boehner said "no, we won’t make a deal" and we don't know if the Republicans are going to be willing to move a little bit themselves toward The President this time. Because we have to remember the Republicans in the House they are still in charge they have a very substantial majority and perhaps many of them don't think there is a need to make a deal. This will be a test of leadership for Speaker Boehner as well as for President Obama.

M: So where does that leave us? If the two can work together then something might happen, but what if that doesn't happen?

H: If it doesn't happen we could go over the cliff at least for a few days, in fact, one of The President's supporters, columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times, said The President should be willing to go over the cliff at least for a short time if it means sticking to his principles. Krugman's point of view was that if that happens it will shock the Republicans into coming into agreement with The President. We've got a month and half or so until the end of the year you know, maybe they'll get into the holiday spirit as we near Christmas and the New Year and they'll want to give each other a gift and a gift to the American people as well.

M: Shifting gears here for just a moment, there has been a lot of post-game analysis about the election, regarding the demographic shift that has been favoring Democrats and possibly cost Republicans the election. Ohio is always an important swing state to win, how does Ohio's changing demographic play into the politics here and what does that portend for future campaigns?

H: I think Ohio is a little bit different than some of the states where demographics in terms of ethnicity had a big effect. In a state like Colorado, for example, with a growing Latino population benefited President Obama. We have Hispanic and Latino voters in Ohio but not in as great a number as they do in some of these other swing states. In our state it was actually the Obama campaign's ability to call on those same people who voted for President Obama the last time to come out and vote for him again. The Republicans, I think, were shocked that the Obama campaign was able to generate the same kind of enthusiasm they did four years ago.

M: If demographics are indeed changing will Ohio remain as crucial of a swing state as it has in the past?

H: As crucial, I'm not sure, we lost two electoral votes. One thing is true, just as it was this time, no Republican has ever been elected President without carrying Ohio and I think particularly for Republicans they will have to carry it four years from now.

M: I've been speaking with Bill Hershey, thanks so much for being here today.

H: Thanks so much, good to talk to you.