Reaching for a New Deal: Ambitious Governance, Economic Meltdown, and Polarized Politics in Obama’s First Two Years

(distributed by Russell Sage Foundation)
Edited by Theda Skocpol and Lawrence R. Jacobs; contains John Skrentny’s chapter “Obama’s Immigration Reform: A Tough Sell for a Grand Bargain”
Published August 2011, 320 pages, paperback

Purchase Reaching for a New Deal »

Reaching for a New Deal opens by assessing how the Obama administration overcame intense partisan struggles to achieve legislative victories in three areas—health care reform, federal higher education loans and grants, and financial regulation. Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol examine the landmark health care bill, signed into law in spring 2010, which extended affordable health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans after nearly 100 years of failed legislative attempts to do so. Suzanne Mettler explains how Obama succeeded in reorienting higher education policy by shifting loan administration from lenders to the federal government and extending generous tax tuition credits. Reaching for a New Deal also examines the domains in which Obama has used administrative action to further reforms in schools and labor law. The book concludes with examinations of three areas—energy, immigration, and taxes—where Obama’s efforts at legislative compromises made little headway.

Reaching for a New Deal combines probing analyses of Obama’s domestic policy achievements with a big picture look at his change-oriented presidency. The book uses struggles over policy changes as a window into the larger dynamics of American politics and situates the current political era in relation to earlier pivotal junctures in U.S. government and public policy. It offers invaluable lessons about unfolding political transformations in the United States.

About the Editors

Theda Skocpol is Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University. Lawrence R. Jacobs is the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute and Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.