November, 2014

Democrats Mistakenly Focused on Health Care

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Democrats made a mistake by passing President Obama’s health-care law in 2010 instead of focusing more directly on helping the middle class, Bloomberg reports.

Said Schumer: “Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them… We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

“Schumer’s comments represent an unusual public intra-party critique of the way Obama’s signature legislative achievement was enacted.”

Fastest Economic Growth in More Than a Decade

“The economy expanded at its fastest pace in more than a decade during the spring and summer, showing the U.S. sits on a solid foundation despite increasing global uncertainty,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.9% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The agency had previously estimated the third quarter’s growth rate at 3.5%.”

Wonk Wire: Is the era of rock bottom economics over?

Getting Ready for the Real Thing

Ruby Cramer has a great look at the “shadow campaign” or “pre-campaign” coming put together to elect Hillary Clinton as president.

“Political operatives wandered the halls of the hotel between meetings, while two or three reporters hung around near the elevators, aimless. What they were covering, how it would all work, and exactly to what end wasn’t clear at the time. But that small, scattered scene at the conference — a daylong series of panel discussions billed as a 2016 “strategy session” — marked the loose beginnings of a coordinated, unprecedented early effort to elect a U.S. president.”

“Three organizations make up what, together, is considered a formidable triad: Ready for Hillary, Correct the Record, Priorities USA. Respectively, the groups have amassed Clinton supporters, defended her in the press, and made preparations to raise millions to augment her possible campaign.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Many believe the four-year head start President Obama had over Mitt Romney in planning a campaign made all the difference in 2012. That’s what Democrats are trying to do for Clinton. [/speech_bubble]

Quote of the Day

“Why come out and vote for the Democratic Party? There was no message to say: Here’s what we’ve done. I wish the party or whoever had done a national media campaign and say, here’s what you get when you elect Democrats. But there was no — what was the message out of ’14? I’m asking you rhetorically — do you know? No. What was it?”

— Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), quoted by Politico.

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Rhetorical or not, it’s a pretty good question. [/speech_bubble]

Chaos Defines Obama Second Term

First Read: “The news out of Ferguson, MO turns out to be overshadowing one of the low points in President Obama’s national-security record. Consider: He’s now looking for his fourth Defense secretary after forcing Chuck Hagel to resign from the post. And the administration is scrambling after the Iran talks failed to produce a deal, which Team Obama so badly wants. (Yes, the United States and Iran are still talking, but the prospects of an eventual deal don’t look good right now.) More than anything else, chaos — whether it’s ISIS, the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Ebola outbreak in Africa — has defined President Obama’s second term in office. And managing this chaos is perhaps the most charitable way to view the administration’s handling of these issues.”

“Now maybe this is simply the ‘new normal’ after the Pandora’s Box of the 2003 Iraq war and the Arab Spring were opened. But with a new Defense secretary coming in, now’s the time to see if the Obama White House can do more than manage the chaos — and actually begin to control the events.”

Americans Split on Obama Immigration Moves

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters are divided on whether President Obama should take action to address the immigration issue, with 45% agreeing that the president should issue an executive order on his own while 48% disagreeing.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval rating is a negative 39% to 54%, close to his lowest-ever.

Wonk Wire: Is Obama’s use of executive powers unprecedented?

GOP Unites Around Plan to Avoid Shutdown

“House Republican leaders are beginning to coalesce around a strategy to avoid a government shutdown in less than a month,” Politico reports.

“The likely proposal would fund nearly the entire government through September 2015, but immigration enforcement related funding would be renewed on a short-term basis, according to several high-ranking GOP lawmakers and aides who described the plan as it stands now. The strategy is designed to keep the government open, while satisfying the base, which is livid with President Back Obama for issuing an executive order that ends deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Whatever happened to defunding Obamacare? [/speech_bubble]

Emails Detail Effort to Bypass Gerrymandering Ban

“The Republican consultants had to be hush-hush — ‘almost paranoid’ in the words of one — because of their high-stakes mission: Get go-betweens to help circumvent a Florida Constitutional ban on gerrymandering,” the Miami Herald reports.

“The plot was spelled out in a newly released batch of once-secret emails that show how the consultants surreptitiously drew congressional and state legislative maps. They then recruited seemingly independent citizens to submit them in an effort to strengthen the hand of Florida Republicans when the GOP-led Legislature redrew lawmaker districts in 2011.”

Will Republicans Go Nuclear?

Politico looks at whether Republicans will revert “the Senate’s voting threshold back to 60 votes, or keep it at the simple majority set by Democrats’ unilateral ‘nuclear option.'”

“Republicans have not yet reached a consensus, with intense member-to-member discussions needed after the Thanksgiving holiday to settle a matter of great importance given the GOP’s sustained outrage following the Democratic gutting of the filibuster on nominations… The GOP has some breathing room with more than a month before they take the majority — but already consequential Cabinet-level nominations are piling up as an early test for how Republicans will wield their majority.”

Obama Is Turning Into Bush

Dana Millbank: “In a cruel echo of history, Obama is morphing into the president whose foreign policy he campaigned to overturn. Obama on Monday morning sacked his Pentagon secretary, Chuck Hagel, after huge midterm election losses in the sixth year of his presidency — just as Bush did in sacking Donald Rumsfeld after midterm losses in the sixth year of his presidency.”

“As with Bush, the ouster comes as a war in the Middle East is going badly — then, the Iraq war, now, the bombing of the Islamic State terror group. Rumsfeld’s ouster led to the surge in Iraq, and Hagel’s departure comes amid signs of an expanded role for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. And, as under Bush, this guarantees that Obama will leave his successor an ongoing U.S. war in the Mideast — quite possibly the sort of ground war Obama vowed to undo.”

Hagel Just the Latest to Clash with White House

The Wall Street Journal explained the “tumultuous relationship” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had with the White House and suggests it led to his ouster.

“Mr. Hagel complained about the slow pace of decision-making and clashed privately with White House national security officials over strategies in Ukraine and Syria, U.S. officials have said. In turn, Mr. Hagel’s predecessors, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, leveled harsh criticisms at President Obama in their memoirs and accused him of micromanaging the Pentagon.”

New York Times: “By forcing out Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, President Obama has severed the obvious weak link from a national security team that has struggled to keep ahead of crises. But his very limited shakeup does not address deeper doubts about the team’s capacity to deal with problems from the Islamic State to the Ebola outbreak.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=”@politicalwire”]Hagel’s memoir is unlikely to be any kinder than those from Gates and Panetta. [/speech_bubble]

Newly-Elected Lawmaker’s Donations Questioned

Rep.-elect Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) has been asked by the Federal Election Commission “to respond to a series of questions for omitting or mislabeling more than $93,000 in campaign contributions, which Curbelo has blamed on a computer software problem,” the Miami Herald reports.

“t’s not uncommon for the FEC to ask campaigns to clean up their financial reports. But Curbelo’s reporting missteps were noteworthy because of the large amount of contributions in question so close to Nov. 4 election. Among other things, more than $50,000 in contributions from political action committees were omitted. More than $40,500 were mislabeled, including $5,000 from KochPAC, run by billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch.”

The Inside Story of Chuck Hagel’s Dismissal

“Hagel’s resignation was decided last Thursday night, a Pentagon official tells The Daily Beast. The news only got out to a few people in the building, who described the next day at work as exceptionally awkward. Many Pentagon officials were surprised to learn Monday from a New York Times report that their boss was leaving. (An earlier announcement would have been impractical, as Obama had his plate full rolling out his controversial plan to begin overhauling the immigration system.)”

“So it was that a duty-bound Hagel, a man who had honorably served in the Vietnam War and still carries shrapnel in his chest from that conflict, was fired Monday morning on live television alongside President Obama and a clearly displeased Vice President Joe Biden.”