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Daniel Henninger | Obama’s Ruinous Course

A wise judge once wrote in dissent that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Let us now extend that wisdom to presidential elections.

Barack Obama says his election victory is a mandate to pursue the policy course he’s insisting on in negotiations with Republicans on the fiscal cliff. He wants a tax increase of $1.6 trillion, $50 billion of new and immediate stimulus spending and the end of congressional approval to raise the ceiling on U.S. debt—the debt that a ratings agency downgraded in 2011.

The campaign stump speech in which Mr. Obama demanded that Congress cede him control over the debt ceiling slips my mind. But we all recall his repeated cries for increasing taxes on "the wealthiest" ($200,000 individual/$250,000 joint), so arguably he has a claim to that. Consequences do come with the democratic habit of holding elections.

But if that is true, then Republicans are justified in citing the consequences of the message of the midterm election held a mere two years ago. In 2010, the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives. Less noted but as important in measuring the nation’s desires, that election gave the GOP control of the largest number of state legislatures it had held since 1928. A similar surge occurred for Republican governors.

Last time I looked, the progressive movement still hadn’t turned Washington, D.C., into the only political jurisdiction of consequence in the United States. The message of the 2010 election, for Republicans anyway, was unambiguous: Slow down the runaway public-spending train, the spending train that caused the nation’s voters to torch and punish Republicans in the 2006 midterms.


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