Thursday, May 29, 2008

THE AUDACITY OF HO HUM

WASH POST Obama has not emphasized any signature domestic issue, or signaled that he would take his party in a specific direction on policy, as Bill Clinton did with his "New Democrat" proposals in 1992 that emphasized welfare reform or as George W. Bush did with his "compassionate conservatism" in 2000, when he called on Republicans to focus more on issues such as education. . .

Heather Higginbottom, who runs Obama's policy office at the campaign's Chicago headquarters, cited education as one area in which Obama offers ideas that are not traditionally Democratic, arguing that the problem is not all about schools or funding, but about parents who let their children watch too much television. She said his proposal to give teachers bonus pay if they receive special training or if their students score high on standardized tests is an idea that some liberal-leaning teachers unions oppose. And she said the campaign has brought "fresh thinking" on many issues, particularly on one of Obama's favorites: increased government transparency. . .

David Axelrod, Obama's top political adviser, said that the campaign will devote more staff members to policy (there are now seven) and that the senator's speeches will increasingly highlight his proposals. "The next six months is going to be about competing visions for this country," he said. "Obama is looking forward, and his policies will reflect that."

Obama's domestic policy proposals, including expanding health care to all Americans and offering tax cuts for the middle class while raising taxes for those who make more than $250,000 a year, differ little from those that Clinton and other Democrats have proposed during the primaries. His ideas for solving the nation's housing crisis are similar to those of congressional Democrats, offering aid to people who cannot pay their mortgages and proposing a second economic stimulus package.

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