Free Markets, Free People

The New Yorker


Obama talks about pared down legislative agenda

Is this a tacit admission that despite all the whistling past the graveyard that many Democrats are doing by "guaranteeing" they’ll win in November, the White House expects a GOP majority in at least one chamber of Congress?

If they’re not smoking the same thing as Joe Biden, then yes, it is. 

What would that agenda look like?

They are talking about a new, more incremental approach, championed by former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to fulfilling campaign promises on energy, immigration and on closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The new White House chief of staff, Pete Rouse, is far more steeped than Mr. Emanuel in the culture of the Senate, where comprehensive approaches to some of these issues have fared poorly. White House officials hope Mr. Rouse’s expertise will help navigate smaller measures through the chamber.

"We weren’t able to do a lot of those other things even with this Congress. That obviously calls for a new approach," one White House official said.

Ya think?  If indeed the GOP is able to take the House and narrow the majority in the Senate, they’ll run into a new obstacle – the GOP legislative agenda.  And most expect that agenda to butt heads on everyone of the issues outlined above as priorities for the administration.

Energy will most likely be limited by Republicans and climate change will probably not be a part of any such legislation.  As Ryan Lizza points out in The New Yorker, Obama and the Democrats stood on the dock and watched that ship sail a while ago.  And most believe it hit an iceberg and sunk, never to be seen again or until the next all Democratic Congress and administration manage to get themselves elected to office – which ever comes first.

Immigration will also most likely not see a comprehensive plan offered.  Instead, whatever the administration wants will run smack dab into the “secure the border first” demand from the GOP.

Same with GITMO – the GOP and many Democrats are not going to be happy or comfortable moving terrorists into the homeland from Cuba.

Then there’s the real priorities that one hopes the GOP will focus on instead:

Retiring Rep. David Obey (D., Wis.), the longtime chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said nothing would get done on immigration and climate change until the economy has fully recovered, and that the incoming class of Republicans would be in no mood to compromise on economic measures.

And that’s precisely the way it should be – in fact, must be, considering that lack of focus on what concerns the people out there in fly over land as reflected in town hall meetings and Tea Party protests says "it’s the economy stupid". The GOP had better heed the point and act.

The underlying question of interest is what Obama will we see when and if the GOP have a majority in the House?  Will he be more conciliatory, drop the anti-GOP rhetoric and be prepared to try to work with Republicans?  Or will he turn harder to the left, whine about obstructionism and use his bully pulpit to further demonize the opposition in hopes of garnering enough sympathy votes to squeak him through the 2012 election?

At the moment I’m inclined toward believing the latter is much more the real Obama.

Anyway, it appears reality is beginning to settle in a bit now.  I’m sure Joe Biden is exempted from that since he’s rarely seen reality much less recognize it.  But this announcement seems to point to some understanding that the window is almost closed to the grand, costly and socialistic programs that the liberal side of the spectrum holds so dear.

~McQ