Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates Support START
Obama vs. The GOP on START
U.S. Foreign Policy
Israel and U.S. Deal
U.S. Policy Towards Sudan
Is Afghanistan a Lost Cause?
Is Obama’s FP Agenda Stuck In Neutral?
America’s Deficit Paranoia
Peter Orszag’s Take On The Deficit Commission Report
Attitudes About Marriage
The Ignorance Agenda
Column: My Tips For New Congressman
Morning Memo Madness
Monday, November 15
Tuesday, November 16
No MM Wednesday
Thursday, November 17
Friday, November 18
Photo Credit: The Globe and Mail
This will last blog post for about week because I will be going on vacation for Thanksgiving. So, I think I will take a break. Happy Early Thanksgiving!
The lameduck session of congress is becoming the ultimate predictor for the Obama administration about how they will handle the GOP when they come into power in January. Currently, Obama’s team is trying to pass its biggest foreign policy initiative, START, which is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia. The other big piece of legislation that Obama is trying to pass is the extension of the Bush tax cuts that will expire at the end of year. The tax cuts are not something the president wants to extend, but they are a popular piece of legislation pushed by the GOP.
Yesterday, the Democrats reviled their plan to extend the tax cuts for the middle class only and possibly pass the tax cuts for the upper income brackets at a later date. Republicans want all the tax cuts extended, either permanently or for at least 2 years. The Republicans only want to pass the START treaty if the U.S. government provides funds to update nuclear weapons capabilities that are already in place. While the Obama administration has made that offer, they are still being snubbed by the congressional leadership on that offer. Of course, this legislation could pass after the lameduck session, but it could be changed with a GOP majority in the house.
The crucial test during the lameduck session is how the president handles compromising with the GOP. If nothing happens, it will be an indication that he is not interested in cutting deals with Republican Party. Think of this like the pre-season to the real legislative session next January. This is a test of Democratic negotiating strategy, if it does not work then their agenda will be dead and since the GOP does not have a majority in both houses nothing will get done. In this scenario, nobody wins.
Photo Credit: New York Times
It appears that everywhere I turn some pundit is offering words of wisdom to the newly anointed freshmen class of the 112th congress. Although that particular congressional session begins in January, hundreds of newly elected congressmen flooded the halls of Capitol Hill for an orientation session. The normal sermon was given by the speakers about being ethical, as congress does so well. Even Representative Eric Cantor provided his newest colleagues with Hit the Ground Running, a guide about being in congress.
Of course, I have never served in congress or worked in Washington (that could change someday), but from an outsider’s perspective there are some other rules the new freshman class should observe:
1. Tone down Your Rhetoric: For those in the Tea Party who pledged to “Take back America,” you probably will have to check that dream at the door. It is important to set realistic goals for yourself. Legislating is like a good exercise program: if your dream is too high, you will never achieve it. Give your constituents realistic expectations, if you do not want them showing up with pitchforks, ropes, and torches later.