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Tag Archives: Party leaders of the United States Senate

Obama’s Proposal Stuck in Democrat-led Senate, but it’s Still Republicans’ Fault

On  Tuesday, the Senate held a vote on whether to bring forward President Obama’s jobs bill for discussion.  Mind you, this was not a vote on the bill itself.  Just a vote to bring it forward to debate, discuss, slice, and dice.  The vote was 50 in favor, 49 against, with 60 votes needed to move forward.  The President, of course, issued a statement blaming Senate Republicans for the lack of votes:

President Obama blasted Senate Republicans for blocking his jobs bill Tuesday night, saying the American people “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The president said in a statement that his administration will work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to get votes on the individual components of the bill “as soon as possible.”

Yes, with the same Senator Reid who himself blocked a vote on the bill just last week.

But there are two things that the President so conveniently forgot to mention.  First, in the 50-49 vote there were actually two Democrat senators that voted along with the Republicans.  But the second thing he omitted is far more important–some of the Dems who voted in favor of bringing the bill to the floor for discussion would not vote for the bill itself:

The only Democrats to vote against the measure were Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), but a number of other centrists in the party indicated they would vote against the package even though they supported launching a debate on the measure.

Let’s see how long before the President admits that his own party is as much to blame and takes them to task for it.

Reid Goes Nuclear, Blocks Vote on Jobs Bill, President Blames House Republicans??

We all remember the speech.  “Pass this jobs bill right away!”  We all heard that phrase many times during the President’s prime time speech on jobs.  Yet, after a month, there had been no bill brought to the floor of either chamber of Congress.

When I wrote about how Dems weren’t even trying to place the bill in the House, I recall someone saying that there was no point, because Republicans wouldn’t vote for it and it would lose.  My view was (and is) that you at least have to try.

According to President Obama, Republicans are blocking his bill in the house, so he took the time to call out Eric Cantor during a stop in Texas:

President Barack Obama got tough on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday, calling him out by name for saying he will block a vote on the president’s $447 billion plan to create jobs and boost the economy.

“Yesterday, the Republican majority leader in Congress, Eric Cantor, said that right now, he won’t even let the jobs bill have a vote in the House of Representatives. That’s what he said,” Obama told a crowd in Mesquite, Texas. “Won’t even let it be debated. … Do they not have the time? They just had a week off. Is it inconvenient?”

Now, if thats true, then the President is right for calling him out.  But, Cantor retorted with a good point about support, or lack of, for the bill from the President’s own party:

Cantor said Monday that the president’s jobs bill is dead on arrival in the House and won’t be brought to a vote. “This all-or-nothing approach is unreasonable,” he said. “I would say from a practical side … he’s got problems on his own side of the aisle with provisions in the bill that Democratic members disagree with. There are many issues that I’ve listed here that we can work together on. So instead of continuing to maintain this sort of campaign posture, let’s do something to work together.”

Somehow, the President conveniently left out that many in his own party don’t support his bill as written.  But pointing that out wouldn’t score political points, now would it?

Then, the Obama campaign sends out an email pointing out that Cantor and Co. were blocking the bill. Because of course, the best way to raise money is to call out the other guys, right?

There was only one problem.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who happens to be a Democrat, went “nuclear” in order to block a vote on the very jobs bill that President Obama yelled at Republicans for blocking.  In other words, to prevent a vote, Reid changed the rules of the Senate:

Reid and 50 members of his caucus voted to change Senate rules unilaterally to prevent Republicans from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments after the chamber has voted to move to final passage of a bill.

Reid’s coup passed by a vote of 51-48, leaving Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fuming.

The surprise move stunned Republicans, who did not expect Reid to bring heavy artillery to what had been a humdrum knife fight over amendments to China currency legislation.

For those who forgot, the last time there was discussion of the “nuclear option,” it was because Democrats were stalling to block Bush judicial nominees, and Republicans were threatening to do what Reid did yesterday.   Of course, back then, Dems were howling that it wouldn’t be right for Republicans to change how things had been done in the Senate for many many years just to get their way, and in the end there was a bipartisan compromise to get past the gridlock.  Yet, Reid jumped in yesterday and opened Pandora’s Box.

Reid claims his move was to prevent the Republicans from offering endless amendments to the bill up for vote, and that Republicans were just trying to “embarrass the President” since they know the bill wouldn’t pass as written–due to lack of support from Senate Democrats.

So, the question is, will the President call out his own party?  Will his campaign send out an email talking about how Reid and friends are blocking the jobs bill and should explain themselves?

Don’t hold your breath.

Forget Picking Winners in the Budget Fiasco; We All Lose in the End

Unofficial seal of the United States Congress

Image via Wikipedia

After the absurd theater that was the “oh-my-god-the-government-will-shut-down” nonsense of last week, many news sites were picking “winners” and “losers.”  Frankly, the loser in all of this is clear–the American People.  If it takes this much effort to get Congress to cut a few billion dollars from a 3-plus trillion dollar deficit, what happens going forward, with expected trillion-dollar deficits for the next ten years?

Contrary to the posturing being done by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama, Democrats came out on the losing end of the battle.  At least temporarily (since success can be fleeting in politics), many Americans scratched their heads as Democrats dug in and fought against budget cuts that make up less than one percent of the total budget.  One looks silly fighting to hold on to every penny when nearly everyone knows that the level of debt we are piling up as a country is unsustainable and a threat to national security.

Wait.  I digress.  Based on the number of people who actually supported the Dems position in all of this, either “nearly everyone” is far from accurate, or there are a lot of people in denial.  They are convinced the way to fix this is to maintain the spending and only increase taxes.  But that’s a different story.

Since we’re talking budgets, and in Washington, its always about the baseline, let’s look at the baseline of the budget battle.  If Democrats had passed a budget back in 2010, while controlling Congress and the White House, none of this would’ve happened.  It was the first time in many years that there was no budget submitted.  Even worse, the fact that the Dems punted in June of 2010 in order to go into butt-covering mode for the upcoming elections seems to have been swept under the rug.  I’m very surprised some person within the Democrat machine didn’t point out that if they didn’t get it done, it could possibly be out of their hands in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party, whose focus is and always has been spending cuts (don’t be fooled by accusations to the contrary), powered an election that sent new people to Congress with the mission of reigning in spending.  I’ve actually gotten a kick out of watching how people who were quick to defend the ramming through of Obamacare by saying “that’s what we elected them to do” turn around and actually criticize members of Congress for being beholden to the Tea Party!  It’s more important to demonize the TP than to recognize that their criticism of spending is legit.

But back to the budget fight.  Republicans aren’t without criticism here.  This was no time to inject social issues into the fray.  A fight over funding for Planned Parenthood had no business occupying time and space in this.  Or did it?  One analysis of the battle said the Democrats fell for the okey-doke in that regard; that really, defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t really the big priority that Democrats thought it was, and when they agreed to give up something in return for a dropping of that issue by Republicans, they were suckered.  Further, as part of the final agreement, Obama and Reid agreed to allow a debate and vote on defunding PP to be brought up in the Senate.  Still, any future fight over defunding Planned Parenthood just because they are an abortion provider is a waste.

There is one upside to the way the deal went down.  Democrats hoped to achieve cuts by simply delaying some projects (which did happen) and/or freezing funding for certain programs and refunding them in the next budget.  Republicans didn’t play ball.   Instead, many programs were terminated in order to get to the nearly $40 billion in cuts.  For the other programs with reduced budgets, they have a new baseline to start from in the 2012 budget.  In other words, even if there is a programmed funding increase, they will still spend less going forward.  This serves to reduce the monsterous deficits already projected for the next 5-10 years out.

So, after all of that, why do I say we all lose?  Because this bears repeating:  we nearly had a government shutdown over cuts amounting to less than 2% of the overall budget!  So much hinged on so little.  In order for the country to win, spending has to come down.   Is that so hard to understand?