S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Congress and the President


Democrats together -- President Obama came to the Capitol Monday to meet with House Democrat before leaving on his first big foreign trip, according to today's Politico. Saying that,

. . . passage of the budget was linked to his economic strategy as well as the ability to act on major issues.

“If we do not have growth, we will not succeed,” the president said, adding that the “momentum” of the budget would help Democrats move ahead on health care reform.

Democratic Leadership -- Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, up for reelection in 2010, characterizes his relationship with the head of the executive branch as a partnership: “President Obama and I work with each other as partners to address the challenges facing our country.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet committed to a second stimulus package saying, “I really would like to focus on the first one. I know that people have made suggestions that we should be ready to do something, but I really would like to see this stimulus package play out.” However, Speaker Pelosi and President Obama have worked together to tighten the earmark process, following much controversy following passage of the omnibus spending bill for the reminder of this fiscal year.

Republican leadership -- Minority Whip Eric Cantor has been a very outspoken critic of the Obama legislative agenda items. He, like all of the "big fat NO" crowd. seems most determined to get in the way of progress. "Budget, Britney dim Cantor's star," from (3/30/09). To quote:

. . . six weeks after the stimulus vote, Cantor finds himself at least momentarily on the defensive, the result of unforced errors, squabbles with other party leaders, a Democratic push to label him “Dr. No” — and the indignity of having his name appear in print next to the words “Britney Spears.”

No one thinks Cantor is in serious trouble, and there’s a real possibility that not a single House Republican will vote yes on Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget. But the GOP’s meteoric star has slipped a bit this month — and his enemies couldn’t be happier.

Conservative columnists are having fits, too. For example, The Washington Post's George F. Will wrote (3/24/09), "The toxic assets we elected," To quote his conclusion:

Jefferson warned that "great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities." But Democrats, who trace their party's pedigree to Jefferson, are contemplating using "reconciliation" -- a legislative maneuver abused by both parties to severely truncate debate and limit the minority's right to resist -- to impose vast and controversial changes on the 17 percent of the economy that is health care. When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president's budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable -- so rely on ours.

This is but a partial list of recent lawlessness, situational constitutionalism and institutional derangement. Such political malfeasance is pertinent to the financial meltdown as the administration, desperately seeking confidence, tries to stabilize the economy by vastly enlarging government's role in it.

Budget -- As President Obama leaves for Europe, he leaves Congress with a full agenda, including consideration of his 2010 budget and what to do about the auto industry. The Senate is now in the midst of 30 hours of debate on the Obama budget for the next five years. And the debate is spirited, even among Democrats. Many questions are unanswered, but Senator Kent Conrad asserts that he and his drafting committee adhered to the President's priorities. These are, of course, education, energy and health care reform. Leaders in both the House and Senate would like to adopt their respective budget resolutions prior to leaving for the spring recess that starts April 4. Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are united in their opposition to the President's budget.

Energy -- President Obama hopes to lead the nation towards energy independence and slowing global warming. But he will need a lot of help from Congressional Democrats. "Consensus could be a conundrum for Climate-Change bill," from CQ Politics (3/29/09). To quote:

When Henry A. Waxman tries to get a global warming bill out of his House Energy and Commerce Committee this spring, much will depend on the views of moderate and conservative Democrats whose votes could be critical in moving the legislation forward.

. . . Waxman can expect little help from Republicans on his committee. Few are expected to vote for a global warming bill and the panel’s ranking Republican, Joe L. Barton of Texas, says he is playing no part in writing the bill.

Economy/Housing -- "Debate on 'Cramdown' bill postponed; compromise elusive." from CQ Politics (3/20/09) To quote:

Senate debate on legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgage terms for troubled homeowners will be postponed until after the spring recess, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday.

The announcement further highlights the difficulty Senate leaders are having with the thorny issue — often referred to as “cramdown.” Senators on both sides of the aisle have been attempting to find amenable language in the past two weeks through staff negotiations, but to this point, both sides have come up empty.

In conclusion, this is how my people (all Republicans!) in Congress voted last week: The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison - Yes; Senator John Cornyn - No. This passed (79-19). The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009: Rep. Kay Granger did not vote. This passed (285-140).

Reference: Sign up for the Congressional Quarterly Newsletters.

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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