The Catholic University of America


As President Obama Winds Up to Swing,
Professor Victor Williams Offers Some Advice

As President Obama prepares to deliver one of the last and certainly most important re-election speeches of his career as he accepts his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6, Catholic University law school Professor Victor Williams would like to plant a bug in his ear: Send Congress back to work.

In an op-ed column published on Sept. 4 by The Huffington Post, the nation’s #1 ranked internet news and blog site for political news, Williams urges the president to take a page from the playbook of one of his predecessors, Harry Truman, and re-convene Congress from its present recess.  
“President Obama should charge the Congress to fix the impending fiscal cliff with an emphasis on preventing the substantial 2013 tax increases on lower and middle incomes,” says Williams.  
The “fiscal cliff” has been much discussed in the media recently. Some prognosticators foresee great damage to the already fragile economic recovery, perhaps even a significant recession, if Congress does nothing.
Congress can be a perfect foil for a president locked in a close re-election battle, as President Truman demonstrated in 1948 when he used his Democratic nomination acceptance speech to condemn the “Do Nothing” 80th Congress.  Truman chronicled, bill-by-bill, how the Congress had repeatedly blocked needed economic and social reform legislation. 
Invoking Article II, Section 3 authority to convene a special session of the 80th Congress, Truman announced at the Democratic convention that year that he would formally call Congress back from its long pre-election adjournment.
“Truman made the case for immediate, concrete action over mere political promises,” commented Williams, who is an instructor in the Lawyering Skills Program at the Columbus School of Law.
“I argue that Obama should fully describe the damage caused to economic recovery and job growth by continued congressional obstruction of fiscal cliff solutions. I suggest that Obama should  strongly condemn those lawmakers that would edge the American economy ever closer to the fiscal cliff for shameless electoral advantage,” he said.
Williams argues in his op-ed that it is still possible for a "grand bargain" to be struck in time to avoid the fiscal cliff, well before general election day, on Nov. 6.
His take on the situation has already gained some significant media attention. Both Politico and the National Journal have recently published related points of view.