Right now, there is an even chance President Obama could become another Jimmy Carter-style loser, or another Bill Clinton-like resurgent winner, but there is little doubt he will be going before the electorate without the aid of any positive policy achievements in his final year, and, if the IMF is correct, with the country in another recession. No wonder he is taking the fight to Republicans.
Entries in Harry Reid (13)
Whilst Congress remains gridlocked, which will be the case until January 2013 at the earliest, the markets will look askance at efforts to control American debt and react accordingly, hurting us all. This is what happens when economic issues are politicised. Maybe, Obama will take a leaf from Bill Clinton’s book, moving to the centre and getting popular support for legislation which Congress hears, but I doubt this will happen.
It is in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that I find the words to sum up my feelings: “A plague on all your houses.”
There is an interesting narrative emerging from the contentious debt limit discussions in Washington: tesponsible politicians from both sides of the aisle have been blocked in their attempts to craft a successful deal by irresponsible, or in Senator John McCain's language, "bizarro" Tea Party politicians.
In the short term that is a fair assessment, possibly without the "bizarro", but in the long term it is a woeful explanation of the present inadequacies of Congress and the President in facing America's debt and deficit problems.
With the usual disclaimer that it could all change tomorrow, there is hope that the adults in Washington can get beyond the "weasel" rhetoric and accusations of childishness to hammer out a deal that moderates on both sides can swallow as a necessary evil.
With four weeks to go before the US faces a possible default on its debt, there is still little sense of how President Obama will lead the country out of the public finances mess the nation faces. It defies belief that the Administration does not have some kind of long-term strategy to ensure that America pays its bills come 2 August, but quite what that plan is nobody outside the Administration could claim to know for sure.
One disturbing possibility to begin considering is that Obama is privy to information that the crisis in America's finances is worse than thought --- his seeming reluctance to get fully involved in the debate is, in fact, a masterful attempt to avoid spooking the markets before a Band-aid can be slapped on the problem. That is pure speculation, but it says something about the ineffectiveness of the President that the only way to take some cold comfort from his performance is to imagine an even worse scenario.
Following up on this weekend's analysis of the last-minute deal on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget that averted the shutdown of the Federal Government....
As part of the deal, Democrats agreed to hold votes in the Senate on repealing the health care law and defunding Planned Parenthood. At first, this budget agreement appeared to be a victory for the Democratic position, holding the line against the level of cuts demanded by conservative members of the House of Representatives.
So there will be few dramas on legislation this year. That is, unless a Democratic minority in the Senate –--where some fiscally conservative members could join a united Republican caucus –-- endorses cuts in government spending. And then we start talking reconciliation for finance bills and Presidential vetoes.
But enough speculation; the filibuster remains largely as it was, and along with it the nearly impenetrable rules of the Senate. "Cooling saucer" or "tar pit"? You decide.
US Politics: Previewing Obama's "State of the Union" (and How the Republicans Will Try to Pre-Empt It)
It promises to be an interesting Tuesday with potential filibuster reform and an outside chance of Republicans forcing a repeal vote on the health care plan. But in the end it will be the power of the Presidency that draws the world's attention to Washington on Tuesday. With one of his most important weapons, President Obama has the chance to remind Americans, and an international audience, of the optimism that surrounded his election in 2008.
The only coherent story emerging after a chaotic week in Washington is that no one is happy with recent events in Congress. Against the backdrop of a recent Gallup poll showing that 83% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is working --- a 30-year historic low ---, Steny Hoyer, the Democrat Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, announced on Friday: “There are at least 434 of my colleagues who are not happy about anything right now.” Then, noting that there are 435 members of the House, he added, "I want you to know I will make that a unanimous judgment. I'm not happy, either."
There is similar discontent in the Senate, where members sat in a rare weekend session to attempt to settle the contentious issues of the DREAM Act, supporting education for the children of illegal aliens, and the repeal of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" restriction on gays and lesbians in the US military. While there was some resolution --- the DADT provision was overturned, while the DREAM Act failed to pass ---unhappiness inside and outside of Washington with the current political process is sure to continue.
US Politics: Why There Will Be No DREAM Act, No Repeal of "Don't Ask and Don't Tell", and No New START
There will be partisan bickering in Congress, despite this season's message of peace and goodwill over tax cuts; however, the likelihood is that some kind of measure will be cobbled together to keep the government funded by the deadline of 1 January.
The real casualty of the discussions over a continuing resolution and the contentious floor battle over tax cuts will be three other issues that the Democrats wanted to address: the DREAM Act, the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" restriction on gays and lesbians in the military, and the "New START" nuclear treaty with Russia.