The lead story in today’s NY Times describes the Obama Administration’s decision to basically give up on getting anything significant done in Congress in 2012 except the extension of the payroll tax cut. See: @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/us/politics/obama-to-focus-on-congress-and-economy-in-2012-campaign.html?ref=politics
It feels like good politics more than good governing but also a reasonably realistic choice given the recalcitrance of the opposition party to compromise in any way, shape or form. But there is another route for Obama to get things done, and that is by more closely working with the nation’s governors, who while political, do not operate in the same insular culture of Capitol Hill, and are not subject to the same pressures to build or preserve congressional majorities.
At Share Our Strength we’ve seen first-hand the impact that governors can have in bringing Obama’s policy goals to fruition. When it comes to ending childhood hunger for example Democrats like Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and Republicans like Virginia Gov. McDonnell have been instrumental in helping close the gap between the number of children eligible for food and nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals, and those actually participating. Best of all, there are no budget battles to be fought because the programs are relatively small entitlements whose funding has already been assured with bipartisan support.
President Obama campaigned on the idea of changing the way Washington works. One way to do that is to reach out more powerfully to the state executives responsible for implementing programs the federal government has created. One result, even during this difficult economic period, could be an America that achieves the bold goal of ensuring there is No Kid Hungry.