November, 2014

Obama Upends GOP Political Strategy

Jonathan Chait: “The GOP has withheld cooperation from every major element of President Obama’s agenda, beginning with the stimulus, through health-care reform, financial regulation, the environment, long-term debt reduction, and so on. That stance has worked extremely well as a political strategy. Most people pay little attention to politics and tend to hold the president responsible for outcomes. If Republicans turn every issue into an intractable partisan scrum, people get frustrated with the status quo and take out their frustration on the president’s party. It’s a formula, but it works.”

“The formula only fails to work if the president happens to have an easy and legal way to act on the issue in question without Congress. Obama can’t do that on infrastructure, or the grand bargain, and he couldn’t do it on health care. But he could do it on immigration. So Republicans were stuck carrying out a strategy whose endgame would normally be ‘bill fails, public blames Obama’ that instead wound up ‘Obama acts unilaterally, claims credit, forces Republicans to take poisonous stance in opposition.’ They had grown so accustomed to holding all the legislative leverage, they couldn’t adapt to a circumstance where they had none.”

Obama to Unveil Sweeping Controls on Ozone Emissions

“The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death,” the New York Times reports.

“The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.”

Wonk Wire: Some climate change impacts are unavoidable.

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Obama doesn’t seem to realize he’s a lame duck.[/speech_bubble]

President Obama, Then and Now

“I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true.”

— President Obama, quoted by the Chicago Sun Times in 2011.

“There have been significant numbers of deportations. That’s true. But what you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took action to change the law.”

— Obama, quoted by the Washington Examiner, earlier this week.

Republican Voters Still Like Romney

A new Quinnipiac poll finds Republican voters nationwide prefer Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee again. Romney leads with 19%, followed by Jeb Bush at 11% and Chris Christie and Ben Carson at 8% each. No other Republican tops 6%.

With Romney out of the race, Jeb Bush leads with 14%, followed by Christie at 11%, Carson at 9% and Sen. Rand Paul at 8%.

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]This is just another indication of a wide open GOP presidential race. [/speech_bubble]

Threat of White House Veto Stalls Tax Cut Talks

“Congressional negotiations to extend a slate of temporary tax breaks stalled Tuesday when the White House pushed back on a deal under discussion on Capitol Hill,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Lawmakers had neared an agreement to make permanent a handful of temporary tax breaks in a deal expected to add $450 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade, according to people familiar with the discussions. But the threat of a White House veto quickly halted its momentum.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]The veto pen is still a very powerful tool at the president’s disposal. [/speech_bubble]

Dysfunction Washington Can Agree On

Michael Crowley: “It isn’t often that left, right and center agree about the Obama White House. But the firing of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week produced a near-unanimous reaction: President Obama’s foreign policy team is dysfunctional and in need of a stronger tonic than the exit of a low-profile cabinet member with a light policy footprint.”

Gay Marriage Bans Overturned in Mississippi, Arkansas

“Arkansas and Mississippi became the latest two states Tuesday to have their gay marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can considers appeals,” the AP reports.

“Likes several states, Arkansas and Mississippi had voter-approved constitutional amendments pass in 2004 that defined marriage between one man and one woman.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Which state will be last? [/speech_bubble]

Flournoy Not Interested in Being Defense Secretary

“Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama’s second term,” Foreign Policy reports.

Congress Nears Deal on Business Tax Breaks

“House and Senate negotiators neared a deal to make permanent a list of major tax breaks for business, infuriating White House officials and some liberal Democrats who say the package will blow a hole in the budget deficit over the longer term while providing little for the working class,” the New York Times reports.

“The package shows how sharply power has shifted after the Democrats’ electoral defeat. Republicans are effectively steamrolling the Obama administration and the Democrats who still control the Senate Finance Committee by cutting the deal with the departing Senate Democratic leadership.”

Politico: “The agreement is not final, and its total cost is not immediately available, though aides said it will likely be at least $400 billion. The entire tally will be added to the budget deficit.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Where’s the Tea Party? [/speech_bubble]

Tea Party Turns Focus to Immigration

“In all its fury and unanimity, the response from the right over President Obama’s decision to change immigration policy without the consent of Congress was the manifestation of a major transformation inside the Tea Party,” the New York Times reports.

“What started five years ago as a groundswell of conservatives committed to curtailing the reach of the federal government, cutting the deficit and countering the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party has become largely an anti-immigration overhaul movement. The politicians, intellectual leaders and activists who consider themselves part of the Tea Party have redirected their energy from fiscal austerity and small government to stopping any changes that would legitimize people who are here illegally, either through granting them citizenship or legal status.”

Stockman Seeks to Brand Climate Change Denial

In his last days in office, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) “appears to be trying to cement his legacy by naming a scientific theory charging climate change is natural after himself,” National Journal reports.

“Stockman, who did not seek re-election this year, introduced a bill last week to ‘study the effect of the Earth’s magnetic field on the weather.’ The bill doesn’t explicitly mention global warming, but would put Congress on record as saying that a ‘decrease in magnetic fields could impact global temperatures’ and instructs the director of the National Science Foundation to commission a study on the impact a shift in the Earth’s magnetic field could have on the weather. That bill’s name? The ‘Stockman Effect Act.'”

“Here’s the thing: the ‘Stockman Effect’ isn’t the name of the theory the Congressman is proposing to study. Scientists contacted by National Journal said they weren’t aware of a ‘Stockman Effect’ related to geophysics or climate change.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]I’ll bet readers can come up with alternative definitions of the “Stockman Effect” [/speech_bubble]

Obama Isn’t ‘Poisoning the Well’ on Immigration

David Leonhart exposes the “poison the well” myth over immigration reform — “the notion that Mr. Obama’s executive action to shield as many as five million people from deportation will prevent a bigger immigration bill from passing Congress and maybe prevent a whole bunch of other legislation, too.”

“Obviously, we can’t run the final two years of the Obama presidency multiple times under different circumstances and see what happens in each. So it’s impossible to know for certain how any one action affects the course of events. But there are all kinds of reasons to believe that the poison-the-well theory is based on a naïve view of politics. And understanding why it’s wrong helps illuminate how politics really does work.”

“Whatever you may think of today’s politicians, they are highly successful people who have climbed to the top of a competitive profession. Most of the time, they make decisions that are in their interests — whether political interests or policy interests. A few notable exceptions aside (like Newt Gingrich’s infamous pique in 1995 over getting a bad seat on Air Force One), they do not make major decisions the way a small child would, based mostly on whether someone else is being nice or mean to them.”