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Is Obama Now Empowered to Push More of His Agenda?

The president may feel emboldened after debt ceiling victory, but lacks leverage and willing partners for other items on his list.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

October 21, 2013 - 3:54 pm

WASHINGTON – Having emerged triumphant from the bitter shutdown/debt ceiling/Obamacare contretemps, President Obama might now expect to be in a strong position to advance his agenda on several fronts.

In a presentation delivered in the glow of victory after the House and Senate agreed to reopen the government’s doors and authorize the Treasury to borrow funds needed to pay the bills, the president mildly admonished his political foes – like the Tea Party Republicans who battled and lost – that “how business is done in this town has to change.”

“And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do — and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. That should be our focus.”

Regardless, at first glance it appears “the way business is done in this town” will exhibit little change and Obama will have no more sway with lawmakers than he did before the recent troubles despite his obvious victory. In fact, on some issues, his success may hinder his efforts. Republicans remain sore at the outcome and are exhibiting little interest in lending a helping hand.

Just how Obama intends to achieve those economic goals is unclear. The administration long ago gave up trying to convince a recalcitrant Congress that additional governmental stimulant will boost the economy and create jobs. And while Obama expressed hope that lawmakers will offer a budget that “cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow,” building prosperity is now in the hands of a congressional conference committee appointed to work through those issues.

There are areas of agreement – Obama and Republicans want to reduce the 35 percent business tax considered the world’s highest, tighten some loopholes afforded corporations and consider changes to entitlement programs to save money. But he’ll carry little influence as the GOP seeks other objectives as well.

That doesn’t mean the president is without ambitions as he grows close to entering the final three years of his administration. During that same White House speech he urged the House to address a long-delayed immigration reform measure by the end of the year.

“The Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities,” Obama said.

And he wants lawmakers to begin anew on a farm bill that got hung up primarily on the issue of food stamps: House Republicans are demanding deep and dramatic cuts while Democrats look to retain the proposed funding levels.

Despite his recent hard-fought victory, Obama doesn’t have the same leverage he did in the government closure/debt ceiling fight to attain immigration and farm legislation to his liking. In fact, ongoing GOP bitterness over the outcome of that debate is likely to further complicate the achievement of those ends.

House Republicans already have rejected the concept of an omnibus immigration bill, preferring to chop the measure up in individual pieces, rendering it more difficult for provisions favored by minority Democrats to sneak through. And there is legitimate animosity, particularly among lawmakers with Tea Party leanings, toward the Senate bill that opens the door for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented residents to eventually gain citizenship.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), a key figure in the debate, recently told a panel audience that “I think it’d be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with him (Obama) on immigration – and I’m a proponent of immigration reform.”

“So I think what he’s done over the last two and a half weeks — he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party,” Labrador said. “And I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind — which is to try to destroy the Republican Party and not to get good policies.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), burned badly in the recent negotiations with the White House, is unlikely to lend a sympathetic ear to the president’s request. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, has sponsored a bill very similar to the measure passed in the Senate in June but it’s unlikely to see the light of day even though it stands a decent chance of passing in a floor vote.

Boehner, ironically, is expected to employ the same tactic he used in the shutdown/debt ceiling debate – implement the Hastert rule, named after former House Speaker Denny Hastert, of Illinois, which holds that only those bills that carry the support of a majority of the Republican caucus will be called up for consideration. That probably spells doom for the Senate bill and any hope of illegal immigrants gaining a pathway toward citizenship.

The farm bill is equally tricky. The effort to slash the food stamp program is being steered by House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, of Virginia, who also feels animus toward the president as a result of the losing, bruising battle. Cantor wants to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years and require adults between 18 and 50 without minor children to find a job or to enroll in a work-training program in order to receive benefits.

“This bill is designed to give people a hand when they need it most,” Cantor said. “Most people don’t choose to be on food stamps. Most people want a job. Most people want to go out and be productive so that they can earn a living, so that they can support a family, so that they can have hope for a more prosperous future. They want what we want. There may be some who choose to abuse this system – that’s not out of the realm of possibility – frankly it’s wrong. It’s wrong for hardworking, middle class Americans to pay for that.”

The decision ultimately will emerge from a conference committee.

Regardless, the bottom line seems to be that President Obama will have no more sway with lawmakers than he did before the recent troubles despite his obvious victory. In fact, on some issues, his success may hinder his efforts.

Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Mr. Straub, I respectfully question the foundation of your hypothesis.

I do not believe Obama has any real interest in improving the economy, strengthen the middle class, lift up the poor, or educate kids. I'd say actions speak louder than words, and for almost 6 years his actions have shown his intent to work in precisely the opposite direction.

His actions, and the actions of minions like Reid, Pelosi and McCain, are directed at keeping Democrats in power and their rich backers in the chips. So far they've been inordinately successful.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tea Partiers have a plan, but no one listens to reason. There are so many entitlements, 99% of the country has a hand out for something. No one is willing to compromise. The government owns us. They have won. This train will keep going until the dollar collapses and the government gets replaced. Based on the US's debt-to-GDP ratio, compared to other countries that have gone bankrupt recently, it's coming soon...
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
my co-worker's sister makes $68 hourly on the computer. She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $15227 just working on the computer for a few hours. hop over to this site...
http://www.fox86.com
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
my best friend's mother makes $89/hr on the computer. She has been without a job for 10 months but last month her payment was $20701 just working on the computer for a few hours. helpful site.....www.Bay95.com
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ok, in what universe does surrenduring unconditionally to your enemy, NOT empower him? What leverage do conservatives have to win any fight with him now? The liberal republican establishment is on his side. All he has to do is sit on his hands, and refuse to budge, and the limp-wristed republican "leadership" will eventually give him anything he wants. Welcome to reality Mr. Straub.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, right. The new rules are, "I will not negotiate." That certainly applies to both Commander Zero and Dirty Harry. Might as well apply to the GOP....but, no, wait, yeah, the GOP is afraid it might "offend" someone .. somewhere .. sometime. No GOP message equals no way the GOP can win. Yes, elections do have consequences, and unless and until the GOP can win two of the three major levers of power [preferably all three] they are doomed.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
To the thinkers here, and there are many, the question to ask is, "Why is it that the republican party 'leaders' cave again and again?"

This sets one looking for answers and I submit that the choices below are not the ONLY possibilities but are certainly substantial:

1)Fear of being called racist. But then, why did they cave to Clinton 1.0 and 2.0?

2)They LIKE statism (my personal favorite because it would appear that they get to avoid having to do the heavy lifting of implementing socialist plans but still get to have some voice in making them operate, so as to funnel money to themselves and their friends)

3)They are comfortable in DC and thus, like the establishment types that they are, prefer to not make waves and draw attention to themselves. Just sort of heel-toe it through their "career" in office and focus on getting re-elected as many times as possible, which, when you butter the right bread, is remarkably easy (McCain, McConnell, et al)

Again, these are not the ONLY reasons but any or all of them probably apply. They can be mixed and matched but ultimately, they take the place of actually doing their job, which I've come to believe means to them sitting in large committees and looking and sounding important while not actually doing a damned thing (Boehner).

If Obama is the principle liar in this case, many republican representatives practice a more stealthy version of it but which is still just as delusional. When Boehner gets in front of a microphone and unequivocally states that he's fighting against obamacare because that's what the American people want and then folds like a cheap suit, one has to wonder if he even heard himself say the words at all.

But then, we have obama the master-liar who tells whoppers every minute of every hour of every day but the difference is that he's not held to ANY standards, while Boehner and McCain will have their lies mildly dissected on occasion to please the statist masters and they don't seem to mind.

In all, I think most elected republicans are defeatists at heart and simply try to get elected to avoid having to go get a real job.

Lee and Cruz are exceptions to this theory, of course.



49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Straub, I respectfully question the foundation of your hypothesis.

I do not believe Obama has any real interest in improving the economy, strengthen the middle class, lift up the poor, or educate kids. I'd say actions speak louder than words, and for almost 6 years his actions have shown his intent to work in precisely the opposite direction.

His actions, and the actions of minions like Reid, Pelosi and McCain, are directed at keeping Democrats in power and their rich backers in the chips. So far they've been inordinately successful.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is a fraud. He was never eligible to be the POTUS, he does not have a legitimate American birth certificate, the April 27th, 2011 document was computer generated with nine layers and is a complete and utter forgery. His registration with the Selective Service in 2008 was fraudulent. His SS# (042-68-4425) was flagged several times by E-Verify as fraudulent. Connect the dots and what you get is a Fraud in Chief.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
"“And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do — and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. That should be our focus.”"
------------------------------------------------------

Too bad this fraud isn't really focused on those things - growing the economy - creating good jobs - strengthening the middle class (good one Mr. Prez!) - and education. He is instead figuring out ways of using the Federal Government to marginalize the Tea Party - the GOP (Stupid Old Party - AKA SOP) - screwing over capitalism in every way possible - and entrenching the progressive movement in government and politics for the next millennium (how'd that work out for Hitler?).

Too bad the LIV's are too damned busy with their ipads/ipods/iphones/free.obummerphones to bother to pay attention - even they might question some of the muslim-in-chief's motives.

There I go - day-dreaming again eh?


(show less)
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama learned he could steamroll the GOP long ago, the first time Boehnhead caved. Why people keep voting for the GOP is beyond me.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Because, in most elections, they are the lesser of two evils, and in some, actually represent a conservative viewpoint. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. At least they are voting, and not for the Demos. What are you doing to give them better choices when they do their civic duty and try to vote for the best choice available, besides being obviously superior- at least in your own mind?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
With Obamacare exposed as an unworkable healthcare model, the Republicans tactical loss on the CR/Debt Limit fight will give way to a strategic victory over Democrats in 2014.

Democrats "look, a squirrel!" strategy was always short-term. At some point, the economic devastation can't be hidden. They should have tried to govern.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
...President Obama might now expect to be in a strong position to advance his agenda on several fronts.

It doesn't matter what position he is in. Constant pressure will find an opening.

Just how Obama intends to achieve those economic goals is unclear.

Just keep pushing. If the resistance doesn't give way this year then it will next year or the next congressional session or the next presidency.

Leftists are in constant offense, their opposition ever on the defense. That's a guaranteed loss for the defense.

Conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partiers...have they any plan for advancing freedom, for rolling back the state? No, they don't. They block the punches until they get hit and inevitably knocked out.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tea Partiers have a plan, but no one listens to reason. There are so many entitlements, 99% of the country has a hand out for something. No one is willing to compromise. The government owns us. They have won. This train will keep going until the dollar collapses and the government gets replaced. Based on the US's debt-to-GDP ratio, compared to other countries that have gone bankrupt recently, it's coming soon...
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tea Partiers have a plan...

Some may but I've not seen more than complaints about what is. How do we sell the notion that less is more with regards government largesse?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
We don't. We point out the burden we are placing on our children and grandchildren and ask why we sacrifice so much as parents to give our children a good start when we vote for things that defeat the purpose of doing so.

We demonstrate that the best government is one that deals with problems related to national security, law enforcement, public safety, and public infrastructure and creates an environment that is conducive for individuals to provide for themselves and their families. We demonstrate how a government that strives to provide for individuals will always fail to do so because it's simply not possible to devise a plan that can account for the individual needs of each person. To do so would literally require one government employee per person whose sole job was to address the individual needs of that person. Since that is unreasonable, any government plan to provide for individuals will involve compromises that are the same for everyone but fail to work well for anyone. We point out that while it's more difficult to provide for yourself than be provided for, if you provide for yourself, you can choose the compromises that are right for you and you will be much better off.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only thing that has saved our collective arses so far is that among all the countries that run their economies and governments badly (most of the world) - overspending and borrowing whenever they can - we run our economy and borrow and spend less badly than most - and are able (so far) to pay back what we borrow. I think those things may change soon - when nobody is willing/able to loan us money the crap will hit the fan. Sooner than later...

49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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