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Morning Jay: The Prisoner's Dilemma

6:00 AM, Mar 16, 2011 • By JAY COST
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Optimisim over the Economy – Concern about the Deficit – Backlash to the Health Care Bill

If this "number" is greater than zero, Obama gets reelected. If it's less than zero, he doesn't. That's all there is to it, and at this point there is very little Obama can do to goose any of the numbers. Republicans on Capitol Hill won't go for another round of stimulus, a significant deal on the deficit is unlikely, and opinions on the heatlh care bill have solidified. Really, the only thing that Obama can do is hope the economy swings around enough to overcome the political liabilities of the deficit and the health care bill.

So, you might say that Obama's predicament is a kind of prisoner's dilemma. Not the game theory version, of course, but a sticky situation nonetheless. Bound by various political factors -- some of his own making, some supplied by the fates -- Obama's options for action are now quite limited. He can do little more than wait to see how the voters react next November. He has to do something to fill his days, so should we really blame him for focusing on his college baskeball picks?

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