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Election Forum

October 6, 2012

Shribman: Rosy scenarios

(Continued)

A sense of crisis beckons, not only because the country approaches the fabled “fiscal cliff,” but also because Obama’s party seems blind to the coming entitlements crisis — Social Security and Medicare are in deep trouble and unsustainable in current form, despite what the Democrats say — while Republicans have embraced a proposal that the public finds scary and that deals only with Medicare, not Social Security.

Here is where crisis meets opportunity. A re-elected President Obama uses his State of the Union address to offer a grand bargain far more sweeping than the one that fell apart during fevered but fruitless negotiations last summer. He tells Republicans he’ll put everything on the table, including substantial changes in entitlements, if they’ll put everything on the table, including tax increases.

He promises to be fair-minded and says he knows that House Speaker John Boehner will be fair-minded as well. He tells Boehner privately that he’ll quell the catcalls from the left of his party if the speaker quells the demands from the right of his.

To prove his seriousness, Obama quotes Herb Stein, a man who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under two Republican presidents (Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford), who was a voice favored by the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and who held an endowed university chair named for the father of the Rev. Pat Robertson. According to Stein’s Law, if something cannot go on forever, it won’t.

The case for Romney

The election of Romney represents perhaps the most dramatic shift in power in decades — greater than the transition between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan 32 years ago, because Carter basically governed as Reagan for the last several months of his administration. And, like Reagan, Romney approaches his challenge with determination but also with an upbeat, conciliatory attitude. He is a gentleman and he vows to treat his opponents in the capital with chivalry.

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