Archive for the ‘legislation’ Category

It’s All On Obama Now — Forget Blaming Bush

May 3, 2009
Political observers say that with the events of the last week, accountability for the nation and its current problems has clearly shifted from Bush.
By Peter Nicholas
The Los Angeles Times
May 3, 2009
Reporting from Washington — In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country.

Every president inherits a tangle of problems from his predecessor. War and recession, natural disaster and foreign crises. And for some undefined interval, new presidents argue that they should not be accountable for the troubles that arose on another’s watch.
.
But inevitably, responsibility shifts. And for Obama, that time came last week, bringing both greater opportunities and greater risks.

Read the rset:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo
rld/washingtondc/la-na-obama-preside
nt3-2009may03,0,6269705.story

The “No Heavy Lifting” White House: Let Congress and Lobbyists Do That

April 24, 2009

The balance between the executive and legislative branches in writing laws has changed over the centuries. In the 19th century, Sen. Stephen Douglas wrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act, with President Franklin Pierce just an interested bystander. In the 20th century, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly insisted that Congress change not one word of the Great Society legislation he sent down from the White House.

By Michael Barone
Townhall

The first presidents of the 21st century have taken approaches between those two extremes. Under George W. Bush, the White House pretty much drafted the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and negotiated the numbers with members who cast the critical votes. On the No Child Left Behind Act and the 2003 Medicare-prescription drug bill, the White House presented its plans and then negotiated with committee leaders — a bipartisan group on education, mostly Republicans on Medicare.

Barack Obama spelled out his positions on the issues during the campaign, but is letting members of Congress do almost all the heavy lifting now that he’s in office.

Thus the $787 billion stimulus package was largely written by members of the Appropriations committees, with concessions made to the three Republicans whose votes were needed in the Senate. Health care bills are now being fleshed out by Chairman Max Baucus and ranking Republican Charles E. Grassley in the Senate Finance Committee, and by Democratic committee chairmen in the House. The administration has proposed cap-and-trade legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions, but the sole working draft made public has come from House committee chairmen Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey.

For those who remember Obama’s promise to be a transformative leader, it comes as a surprise to see such deference to Congress. Obama insiders explain that when Hillary Clinton tried to draft a health care bill without input from Congress, the project crashed and burned.

One might add that Obama never acquired much legislative expertise in his three years and 10 months as a senator, most of which he spent campaigning for president. Better, perhaps, to leave it to Congress, where Democratic senators have considerable experience legislating and the relevant House committees are led by experienced and unusually competent chairmen.

But there are problems with Obama’s approach, as there were with Stephen Douglas’ and Lyndon Johnson’s, and for that matter with George W. Bush’s.

The first problem is that the congressional sausage factory can produce laws with embarrassing amounts of gristle and waste matter. Appropriators wrote their wish lists into the stimulus bill, and while the results might look attractive to their constituents, they were held up to ridicule by Republicans and bipartisan critics of pork-barrel spending. The stimulus package hasn’t gotten any more popular as the details have come out.

Read the rest:

http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelBaro
ne/2009/04/23/obama_lets_congress_–_a
nd_lobbyists_–_do_the_work

Obama’s Grand Strategy

April 24, 2009

Unified theory of Obamaism, fifth (final?) installment:

In the service of his ultimate mission — the leveling of social inequalities — President Obama offers a tripartite social democratic agenda: nationalized health care, federalized education (ultimately guaranteed through college) and a cash-cow carbon tax (or its equivalent) to subsidize the other two.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

Problem is, the math doesn’t add up. Not even a carbon tax would pay for Obama’s vastly expanded welfare state. Nor will Midwest Democrats stand for a tax that would devastate their already crumbling region.

What is obviously required is entitlement reform, meaning Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. That’s where the real money is — trillions saved that could not only fund hugely expensive health and education programs but also restore budgetary balance.

Except that Obama has offered no real entitlement reform. His universal health-care proposal would increase costs by perhaps $1 trillion. Medicare/Medicaid reform is supposed to decrease costs.

Obama’s own budget projections show staggering budget deficits going out to 2019. If he knows his social agenda is going to drown us in debt, what’s he up to?

He has an idea. But he dare not speak of it yet. He has only hinted. When asked in his March 24 news conference about the huge debt he’s incurring, Obama spoke vaguely of “additional adjustments” that will be unfolding in future budgets.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn
/content/article/2009/04/23/AR2009
042302983.html?hpid=opinionsbox1