Obama administration, Congress brace for new political reality

One week from today, the GOP dominated 112th Congress begins it’s two year run.  What will be different, what will remain status quo?


A new political reality hits Washington next week, with the first split Congress since 2004 raising questions about whether the bipartisan cooperation of the recently concluded lame-duck session can continue.

Conventional wisdom says the shift from one party controlling both chambers, as Democrats have done since 2006, to the GOP taking over the House and holding a stronger minority stake in the Senate should mean increased partisan impasse over the next two years.

But that same conventional wisdom got turned on its head after November 2, when the electoral “shellacking” delivered to President Barack Obama and the Democrats was followed by one of the most productive post-election congressional conclusions in history.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs attributed the new bipartisanship of the post-election period to the Republican gains in the November vote.

“There was a responsibility of government that I think the Republicans got in the November elections and they began to understand that responsibility a little bit more in this lame-duck session than they had in the previous, quite frankly, 18 months or so,” Gibbs said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republicans can no longer afford to “simply sit and say no,” Gibbs said, referring to the obstructive posture that GOP leaders generally struck in Obama’s first two years in office. Instead, he called for Republicans to be part of a constructive conversation, at least in 2011 before the presidential campaign of 2012 really heats up.

Some liberals accused Obama of giving in too easily to Republican demands on some issues, particularly in cutting a deal that extended Bush-era tax cuts to everyone after Obama had campaigned on allowing tax rates of the wealthy to return to higher levels.

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the NBC program “Meet the Press” that the new reality in Washington requires such compromise in order to do what’s best for the American people, rather than one political party or another

“There was a responsibility of government that I think the Republicans got in the November elections and they began to understand that responsibility a little bit more in this lame-duck session than they had in the previous, quite frankly, 18 months or so,” Gibbs said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”   More…

Poll: Republicans Who Want To Repeal Health Care Law Should Opt Out Of Gov’t-Sponsored Health Plans

Well, given that those politicians who oppose or want to repeal the Health-Care Law are so adamant about doing so, it would be a show of good faith for them to opt out of their government sponsored health care plans.  Let’s wait and see how this one pans out…

Think Progress

Last week, responding to Rep.-elect Andy Harris’ (R-MD) hypocritical demand for government-sponsored benefits, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) began circulating a letter among his Democratic colleagues calling on Harris and other members of Congress who want to repeal the new health care law to forgo their own government health care plans. So far just two incoming Republican freshmen — Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (PA) and Rep.-elect Bobby Schilling (IL) — have agreed. But a new Public Policy Polling survey has found that most Americans “think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they’re in office”:

Only 33% think they should accept the health care they get for being a member of Congress while 53% think they should decline it and 15% have no opinion.

Democrats are actually the most supportive of anti-health care Congressmen taking their health care, with 40% saying they should accept it to 46% who think they should decline. But Republicans and independents- who put these folks in office in the first place- strongly think they should refuse their government provided health care. GOP voters hold that sentiment by a 58/28 margin and indys do 56/27.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein estimated that Republicans could save the federal government $2.4 million if they forgo health care for a year. New members have 60 days (after being sworn-in) to select an insurance plan from the federal health insurance exchange, which will become available on the first day of the following month. Returning members can opt-out of the government-sponsored health insurance coverage until the end of the open-enrollment period, December 13th. The Wonk Room has more on why not opting out would be a betrayal of Republican candidates’ pledges to “listen[] to the people who sent us,” and on the scheme of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), a reform proponent, to make the GOP lawmakers put up or shut up on repeal.

Fareed Zakaria On The Republicans: Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Three Times…

Crooks & Liars – By Nicole Belle

Fareed Zakaria reminds Americans that this newest re-taking of the House is the third “Republican revolution”, behind the Reagan revolution and Newt Gingrich’s Contract On For America. Neither era of Republican control worked out well for the vast majority of Americans. Will the American people give the GOP another chance if they screw this one up?


[T]here is little chance that the majority of Americans will have this pointed out to them via our traditional media. Sure, you and I see it and we seek out media that provide facts and context, but the vast majority of people in this country do not.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to have a cable news commentator say what needs to be said: The Republican Party have shown time and time again they cannot govern the country well.

The people have spoken, or at least 42 percent of registered voters have spoken, which is 90 million of America’s 300 million people, and the verdict is clear. The Republicans have come to power. But whether they will be able to stay in power will surely depend on whether they’re able to fulfill their central campaign promise, which is to cut down big government.

I’m going to lead – leave aside the question of whether cutting government and government spending is the right thing for the economy now. We actually have a great debate on that very topic coming up. But I’m simply holding the Republican Party to its pledge.

The reason I think this will be tough for them to stay politically popular, if they renege on this pledge, is because we’ve been here before. You see, this is actually the third Republican revolution.

The first was Ronald Reagan’s when he came into office in 1980 and promised to cut taxes and cut spending. He did the first bit, enacting a massive reduction in taxes and closed hundreds of loopholes. It was a landmark piece of legislation.

The problem is he never got around to the second part. The result by 1985 was that the federal deficit as a percent of GDP had doubled. It only went down slightly after that because Reagan agreed to several tax increases. But his budget director, David Stockman, argued that the Reagan revolution failed because Congressional Republicans refused to cut spending.

The second revolution was Newt Gingrich’s. That was more successful, and Gingrich deserves some credit. Much of the credit, however, must go to the man who was president during those years, Bill Clinton. Clinton’s years in office saw the lowest average deficits in decades ending up with a massive surplus, and that is because he both raised taxes and cut spending.

Next up, the Bush years, with Republicans controlling all levers of government after 2002, an ideal time to fulfill the Republican promise, to close the deficit, right? Wrong. It turned out to be the most reckless expansion of government spending in two generations. The two percent budget surplus he inherited from Clinton turned into a two percent deficit. Why? Tax cuts, prescription drugs, and two wars, all unpaid for. The debt exploded.

So, this time, if the Republicans look at the deficit and promise to close it, but then cut taxes and continue to expand spending, the public surely, at some point, will say, fool me three times, shame on me.


The Daily Beast: Obama Needs An Enemy

Folks are coming down hard on the president, but as The Daily Beast asks,  “…compared to what?  Wait till people get a better look at John Boehner and his band of corporate fat cats. Peter Beinart reports on the good news for Democrats.”

The Daily Beast

Amid the misery of the moment, here’s something Democrats can look forward to: President Obama is about to get his foil. He’s needed one throughout his career. In 2007, it was the contrast with Hillary Clinton that accentuated Obama’s freshness and authenticity. In 2008, it was during the presidential debates—where McCain looked erratic and uninformed and Obama looked analytical and centered—that Obama put the race away. In 2009 and 2010, by contrast, Obama has had no one to contrast himself with except for George W. Bush, and that stopped working long ago.

He’s remained, for all his troubles, far more popular than Congress. But with Congress in Democratic hands, he hasn’t been able to wield that contrast to his benefit. Instead of a political foil, Congress has provided political baggage. In passing legislation, Nancy Pelosi has proved masterful. But politically, she owns a favorability rating of 15 percent, according to this week’s New York Times, which helps explain why Republican candidates rarely utter the president’s name without mentioning hers as well.

Next week, however, things will change. A lot of Americans are about to be introduced to John Boehner and it’s unlikely they’ll like what they see. Partly, that’s because congressional leaders are usually unpopular. They’re sausage-makers, practitioners of an art that most Americans despise. And they’re rarely good on TV, which is not surprising given that they’ve been elevated within their parties because of their skills behind closed doors.

Continue reading…

Boehner: The ‘Pledge’ Is Just To ‘Lay Out The Size Of The Problem,’ Americans Aren’t Ready For Solutions

“…Americans aren’t ready for solutions…”???  WTF is Boehner on?  America is anxiously waiting for solutions for the economic crisis, especially jobs, housing, and taxes for the middle class.  

Mr. Boehner, may I ask, “What color is the sky on YOUR planet?

Think Progress

Since its release last week, House Republicans have been touting their “Pledge To America” as a bold policy vision to solve the nation’s problems, which they would enact if they gain a majority after the November elections. However, revealing the pledge to be nothing more than regurgitated rhetoric that ignores critical issues, even conservative critics have slammed it as “meaningless stuff” that fails on “advocacy of long term sound public policy.”

Today on Fox News Sunday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) seemed to concede this point. When host Chris Wallace noted that the Pledge does not even address entitlement spending such as Social Security and Medicare, Boehner countered by saying that its purpose is only to “lay out the size of the problem,” rather than “to get to potential solutions.” This, of course, flies in the face of GOP branding of the proposal, but Boehner explained that he doesn’t think the American people can handle his ideas right now, saying, “Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions”:

WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, as Willie Sutton said about banks, entitlements are where the money is. More than 40% of the budget. Yet, I’ve looked through this pledge and there is not one single proposal to cut social security, medicare, medicaid.

BOEHNER: Chris, we make it clear in there that we’re going to lay out a plan to work toward a balanced budget and deal with the entitlement crisis. Chris, it’s time for us as americans to have an adult conversation with each other about the serious challenges our country faces. And we can’t have that serious conversation until we lay out the size of the problem. Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions. […]

WALLACE: Forgive me, sir, isn’t the right time to have the adult conversation now before the election when you have this document? Why not make a single proposal to cut social security, medicare and medicaid?

BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in washington. When you start down that path, you just invite all kind of problems. I know. I’ve been there. I think we need to do this in a more systemic way and have this conversation first. Let’s not get to the potential solutions. Let’s make sure americans understand how big the problem is. Then we can talk about possible solutions and then work ourselves into those solutions that are doable.

Continue reading…

Watch it:


GOP ‘Pledge’ Underwhelms

The GOP has released their new “contract for America” entitled “Pledge to America”.   Here is a look at what some of the news outlets are saying:


The new “Pledge to America” is unlikely to inspire the nation, but Republicans will win big in November even without a coherent, forward-looking platform.

Huffington Post

The “Pledge to America,” circulated to GOP lawmakers Wednesday, emphasizes job creation and spending control, as well as changing the way Congress does business. It steered clear of controversial issues such as Social Security and Medicare, big drivers of deficit spending.

Daily Kos

Tonight, CNN contributor Erick Erickson of RedState, The Republican’s answer to the Daily Kos and its founder Markos Moulitsas just tore apart and ripped into shreds the House GOP’s new plan to be unveiled tomorrow… “Pledge To America.” This is the GOP’s pathetic attempt to recapture  Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract With America” which failed miserably and has been aptly renamed “Contract On America.”          http://www.washingtonpost.com/…


Republican ‘Pledge to America’: Spending caps, tax cuts…