• With: Dan Henninger, Matt Kaminski, James Freeman, Mary O'Grady

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," January 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," from Washington to Wall Street and around the world, our look ahead to 2014.

    After ObamaCare's rocky rollout, can the president get back on track and push forward with his populist agenda?

    Will 2014 be another big year for stocks, or are there signs of a slowdown?

    And will the coming year bring historic peace accords or growing global disorder?

    Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    And this week, we're looking ahead to 2014 and the challenges facing the Obama administration at home and abroad. We start on the home front, where the president, no doubt, is happy to put 2013 behind him. So can the White House move past their ObamaCare woes, pump up those sagging poll numbers and push forward with what's shaping up to be a populist agenda?

    Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady; and assistant editorial page editor, James freeman.

    So, Dan, the president has got a comeback strategy I suspect.


    GIGOT: What is it and what are the prospects?

    HENNINGER: I think it's difficult for the president himself to come back, Paul. I think the damage that was done to his credibility with ObamaCare is pretty significant, you know, saying you can keep your doctor or health care plan, which wasn't true. When the public withdraws its belief in the president, he has a problem.

    Nonetheless, they've got a big election to contest in November of 2014.

    GIGOT: That's for sure.

    HENNINGER: I think a lot of the effort is going to go into disadvantaging the Republicans to try to suppress Republican turnout, make the Republicans look like something you don't want to vote for.

    GIGOT: Financing Tea Party challengers --



    HENNINGER: They don't want the Republicans taking control of the Senate. So I think that's what we're going to see across the legislative agenda in Washington.

    GIGOT: Mary, there's also an emerging, on the left, economic populism, which is of course fascinating, since they've been in charge for over five years. They're now saying we need this new aggressiveness on economics, redistribution. They're going to promote a minimum-wage, referenda, all around the country if they can do it. Push Congress, talk about extending unemployment benefits, unemployment benefits, a variety of these arguments aimed at saying Republicans are for the rich and we're for the little guy.

    MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY: Right. I don't think it's really about getting any of that done. It's really more about taking advantage of the circumstances to demagogue the other side. I think what we're seeing here with this president is his lack of experience in politics. It's hurt him for five years and is going to continue. When he runs into a problem or an opposition from the other side, he doesn't sit down and try to figure out how he can get part of what he wants done. Instead, he uses it to, basically, you know, as I say, demagogue the other side. And for that reason, I don't think there's going to be any change.

    GIGOT: But hasn't it worked? I mean, he won in 2008. He won in 2012. They figure, hey, it worked in 2012 against Romney, let's use it against Boehner and company.

    O'GRADY: Well, it's the only game he knows. But as Dan says, his credibility is really hurt. And I think he needs one or two wins under his belt. So I think he's in for another troubling year.

    GIGOT: Let's talk about Congress.

    What can get done, James? Do you see anything?

    JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: I think there are two areas where he really has an opportunity, if he wants to put aside a lot of this class warfare rhetoric and campaigning. I'm not betting on it. While he's vacationing in Hawaii, his old campaign organization was frantically sending out e-mails for the next, I'm sure, set of inequality gripes. He does have opportunity in two areas. One is housing and the other is immigration. Housing, a moment where there is, I think, an opportunity to get a bipartisan agreement that government and these mortgage monsters they created, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should withdraw from the more damage market.

    GIGOT: Right.

    FREEMAN: It's a good time to do it.

    GIGOT: Because housing market has come back and home prices are rising again.

    FREEMAN: Yeah. I think the Senate is ripe for a deal if -- if he either stays out of it or doesn't decide that this is another opportunity to campaign against bankers.

    GIGOT: What about immigration, Dan? Because that --


    HENNINGER: Well, let's talk about that.

    GIGOT: Because I think Boehner, I think he wants a deal, if he can get it. I know Paul Ryan would like to get some kind of deal. A lot of Republicans would like to get this issue passed.

    HENNINGER: Yes. I think there's two ways to think about the immigration issue. Obama's support among Hispanic voters, which is one of the key parts of his base and re-election, has fallen off. He's down about 14 points among Hispanic, and among young voters as well. He could go in one of two directions. Put the Republicans in a position where it's impossible for them to vote for the immigration bill, and say to Hispanic voters, look, Republicans don't like you, you can't vote for them. Or --

    GIGOT: Use the issue against them.

    HENNINGER: Or he can get a combination bill, which I think would show he and Washington can do something. The result I think would be kind of a status-quo vote, which would mean that maybe some of those Democratic Senators would survive --


    GIGOT: It would help them in the Senate.