Obama: “What More Do You Think I Should Do?”

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis understands that my biggest problem, bordering on hysteria, with the mainstream press is its members’ strict adherence to the mindless dogma that, directly or indirectly, creeps into nearly every story about the political dysfunction in Washington: Both sides are guilty.

On Friday, President Obama spoke to reporters about the sequester. This odd but entertaining press conference perfectly illustrated just why it is that Republicans don’t pay a steep political price for paralyzing Congress and slowing down the economic recovery.

The President opened with a statement that was over 1000 words long, praising the American people for their strength and resiliency, which they will need to keep the economic recovery going, given that they won’t get any help from the Republican Party.

Mr. Obama labeled sequestration—now in effect—as “a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts” that were both “unnecessary” and “inexcusable.” He said the “slow grind” of the sequester will do damage to the economy, intensifying over time, killing 750,000 jobs and shaving more than “one-half of 1 percent” from our GDP.

And guess what? President Obama, because someone has to tell folks what is really going on, told folks the truth. He told them that whatever pain they may suffer over the coming weeks and months has a direct and unmistakable cause:

It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made.

It couldn’t have been expressed any clearer than that. Republicans have made a choice: to once again put the interests of wealthy taxpayers— disproportionately the beneficiaries of most of the tax code loopholes that the President wants to close—ahead of the interests of the country at large. That’s it. That’s what’s happening.

So, what do you suppose was the first question that was asked at the press conference? Come on, you know by now:

How much responsibility do you feel like you bear for these cuts taking effect?

Yep, that was the first question. It was asked by Julie Pace of the Associated Press. And I’m sure if any other reporter were given the chance to ask the first question, it would have sounded much like hers, perhaps like this:

Mr. President, it just can’t be all the other guy’s fault, right? That just can’t be because we in the press know that both sides are to blame for what’s happening.  Isn’t that right, Mr. President? So, come on and tell us how much of the fault is yours. Come on, you can do it. Tell us.

To his credit, the President fought back hard against the notion that he should share the blame for what is going on in our government. Using yet another 1000 words, he told Julie Pace that he had already signed off on deficit-reducing cuts, to the tune of $2.5 trillion. He told her he was “prepared to take on the problem where it exists — on entitlements — and do some things that my own party really doesn’t like — if it’s part of a broader package of sensible deficit reduction.”

And he reiterated what he had said earlier:

But what is true right now is that the Republicans have made a choice that maintaining an ironclad rule that we will not accept an extra dime’s worth of revenue makes it very difficult for us to get any larger comprehensive deal.  And that’s a choice they’re making.  They’re saying that it’s more important to preserve these tax loopholes than it is to prevent these arbitrary cuts.

There’s that word “choice” again. Republicans have made a choice. Republicans have made a choice, Julie.

President Obama ended his answer to her question with this:

…the one key to this whole thing is trying to make sure we keep in mind who we’re here for.  We are not here for ourselves, we’re not here for our parties, we’re not here to advance our electoral prospects.  We’re here for American families who have been getting battered pretty good over the last four years, are just starting to see the economy improve; businesses are just starting to see some confidence coming back.  And this is not a win for anybody, this is a loss for the American people.

And, again, if we step back and just remind ourselves what it is we’re supposed to be doing here, then hopefully common sense will [win] out in the end.

Now, what do you suppose Julie Pace followed up with? Yep, you got it:

It sounds like you’re saying that this is a Republican problem and not one that you bear any responsibility for.

What do you say to someone like that? What to you say to a journalist who insists that no matter what the evidence says, she must adhere to the both-sides-are-guilty dogma at all costs? If she thought the President deserved some blame, she should have asked him about something specific she thought he did to deserve that blame. Like: “You remember that time you hid John Boehner’s tanning lotion at the golf course? Is that why he won’t make a deal?” Or something like that.

But you see, Julie Pace was not asking that question thinking that the President would actually answer it. She wasn’t expecting him to say,

You know, Julie, I’ve come to a conclusion. I guess I am to blame for what’s going on in this town. Yeah, I’m to blame. God gave me pigmented skin and my parents gave me a funny name and an exotic background. I really had no business coming to Washington and disturbing all these nice white folks in Congress.

What was I thinking?

cool obamaNo, Julie Pace knew Mr. Obama wouldn’t say anything like that or otherwise take the blame for the dysfunction that is threatening to ruin his second term, not to mention the country. But she knew that asking that question is part of the Beltway press liturgy. It’s how journalists these days prove they belong. She, by God, is a true-believer in the both-sides-are-guilty dogma.

The President responded to her question in this unusual way:

MR. OBAMA: Well, Julie, give me an example of what I might do.

JULIE PACE:  I’m just trying to clarify your statement.

MR. OBAMA:  Well, no, but I’m trying to clarify the question.  What I’m suggesting is, I’ve put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem.  I’ve offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach.  And so far, we’ve gotten rebuffed because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is, we cannot do any revenue, we can’t do a dime’s worth of revenue.

So what more do you think I should do?  Okay, I just wanted to clarify.  (Laughter.)  Because if people have a suggestion, I’m happy to — this is a room full of smart folks.

After that the President turned to another reporter, but he had made his point: “What more do you think I should do?” A damn good question. And all the people claiming he is to blame for what we see should have to answer it.

A little bit later, the President had this strange exchange with Jessica Yellin of CNN:

YELLIN: Mr. President, to your question, what could you do — first of all, couldn’t you just have them down here and refuse to let them leave the room until you have a deal?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, Jessica, I am not a dictator.  I’m the President.  So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, we need to go to catch a plane, I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway, right?  So —

YELLIN: But isn’t that part of leadership?

Ah, there it was. The B-side of the both-sides-are-guilty tune. The President, don’t you know, should lead. That’s what leaders do, right? They lead. If he were leading, there’d be a deal. Every journalist, especially those who follow the lead of Bob Woodward, knows that. And if they don’t know that, Republicans are happy to tell them. Republican leaders say it all the time: There’s no deal because President Obama has failed as a leader.

Apparently the President should somehow find a way to make Republican leaders, and those they lead, bend to his will. He should find a way to make them do what they have pledged not to do before God and Grover Norquist.

But since the President ruled out a “Jedi mind meld,” perhaps he should just give them what they want, give in to their demands, pay them the ransom they are asking for. Because that is the only “deal” Republicans are willing to make. Is surrendering to uncompromising zealots the answer to the question Mr. Obama posed to Julie Pace: “What more do you think I should do?”

Fortunately, Republicans won’t get the ransom they’re asking for. They won’t get the deal they want from this president. You know why? Because there is more to being a leader than simply making a deal. Sometimes leadership means not making a deal, when the only deal to be made would be a bad deal.

And President Obama, during Friday’s amazing press conference, assured us he won’t enter into a one-sided bargain with Republican hostage-takers:

But what I can’t do is ask middle-class families, ask seniors, ask students to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction when we know we’ve got a bunch of tax loopholes that are benefiting the well-off and the well-connected, aren’t contributing to growth, aren’t contributing to our economy.  It’s not fair.  It’s not right.  The American people don’t think it’s fair and don’t think it’s right.

26 Comments

  1. Duane, you nailed it, again. In that recent press conference, the “community organizer,” President Barack H. Obama, was outstanding, impressive, confident, and I have no objection to your “amazing”– WOW! Yet, how many news reporters and newspapers reported it as we saw it.

    Like

    • Gene,

      I happen to have been out of town on Friday and the weekend, thus I had only spotty reports on the news conference. It wasn’t until late Sunday night I was able to catch up, and, my goodness, how different the press conference was from the way I heard reporters say it was. We’ve got to check the sources these days, don’t we?

      Duane

      Like

  2. King Beauregard

     /  March 4, 2013

    Remember just a few months ago, when people on the left were convinced that Obama was going to give the Republicans everything they wanted on the first half of the sequester (the part at the end of the year, with extending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy)? Then they were convinced that Obama would surely bend over backwards on the second half. Well Obama’s done a far better job than the dullards at Huffington Post will ever concede.

    I just had to say it somewhere.

    Like

    • Anonymous

       /  March 4, 2013

      Had Reid not destroyed the last offer, I wonder about the fiscal cliff scenario

      Like

    • King Beau,

      Excellent observation. There are some folks at HuffPo who simply don’t trust Obama and probably never will. But I will say that HuffPo is not as bad as some other lefty sites. Some folks just don’t understand how hard it is to get everything you might want. When I was a union official (branch president), it is amazing how high expectations were on the part of some members, and when compromises were made we often took a little heat. But I had to explain often that there is someone on the other side of the table who doesn’t want to give you anything, much less everything.

      As for myself, I always tend to give O the benefit of the doubt, considering the environment he is working in, although he governs much more conservatively than I would like. I have been a little bit surprised at his second-term behavior, but it is a welcome surprise. I’m still a little worried, though (I confess), about the inevitable “deal” to come.

      Duane

      Like

  3. ansonburlingame

     /  March 4, 2013

    Duane,

    One simple question, actually two. Has a Presidential budget submission EVER been debated vigorously in the last four years (’09 thru ’12) and received a favorable vote in EITHER house in Congress?

    Why has the president yet to submit a buget proposal for 2014?

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      1. Obama’s budget is a little late this year. He’s sort of been busy, what with all that damn golf!
      2. I can remember back when Ronald Reagan was president and Democrats would pronounce his budgets “dead before arrival.” Here is a link to an article from 1985 (oh, I forgot what you think of links, sorry.)
      3. So, the more things change, the more they don’t.

      Duane

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  4. The Republican Congress may have taken the budget and the American Middle Class hostage, but their foot soldiers — their brownshirts are nearly all the members of the American press corps. Cowed by the rich owners of publishing and broadcasting syndicates, they have been drugged with the myth of “liberal media” and contributing to an only slightly less obnoxious version of Fox’s “fair and balanced”. It makes me sick. And even NPR has joined the ranks of these traitors to the calling of the fourth estate. Mr. Obama will never have them as allies until the Tea Party and the GOP collapse inside their own cancerous corruption and there is no one else.
    PS: Anson — once again, you are not paying attention to the issue or reading the blog.

    Like

  5. As I’m sure you know, Duane, I have come to agree with most of your political and economic insights in the past couple of years. It has been something of a revelation to me because the harder I ponder the issues the more in general agreement with you I have become. On the issue in this post, however, I will quibble somewhat. Yes, the GOP and the Tea Party are being unreasonably intransigent on the budget and are placing ideology above the national interest, but I submit it would be a mistake to think that all Democrats are always blameless. Politicians will be politicians. In reading Steven Brill’s excellent Time Magazine report on healthcare I found this, which I believe to be just criticism:

    Finally, we should embarrass Democrats into stopping their fight against medical-malpractice reform and instead provide safe-harbor defenses for doctors so they don’t have to order a CT scan whenever, as one hospital administrator put it, someone in the emergency room says the word head. Trial lawyers who make their bread and butter from civil suits have been the Democrats’ biggest financial backer for decades. Republicans are right when they argue that tort reform is overdue. Eliminating the rationale or excuse for all the extra doctor exams, lab tests and use of CT scans and MRIs could cut tens of billions of dollars a year while drastically cutting what hospitals and doctors spend on malpractice insurance and pass along to patients.

    I don’t believe that pointing this out diminishes the validity of your major point, that both parties must be equally to blame for political failings is a persistent and generally misleading meme embedded in our journalistic culture. I see a good example of it in an AP article on the front page of today’s Joplin Globe. The headline subtitle says, “Analysis says rich families’ (tax) rate approaches 30-year high”. This clearly implies that it’s too high, but only near the end of the article is the clarification that while top earners’ incomes have risen 155 percent in the last 30 years, middle class incomes have risen a mere 32 percent in the same period, and, that singling out regular tax rates ignores that much income for the wealthy comes from capital gains which are taxed lower in rate than the middle class pays. The result of this is well summarized by the very first sentence in the article: “The poor rich.” I don’t see how the AP can claim this article to be anything like fair and balanced.

    Good post.

    Like

    • Jim,

      First of all, when you offer criticism, I listen. I know it is offered after a lot of thought.

      Thus, I am not quite sure where this comes from:

      I submit it would be a mistake to think that all Democrats are always blameless. Politicians will be politicians.

      I totally agree with that. And I looked back at the post to see how you might have got the notion that I think Democrats are always blameless. I don’t think I even implied such a thing, only that President Obama is not to blame for the dysfunction we have seen lately and continue to see.

      I continue to believe that there is little the President can do to fix things, short of giving in to all Republican demands. When one side is determined not to compromise, compromise—if the word is to retain its present meaning—is impossible.

      Second, Brill’s article was fantastic, even if he failed to point out that a solution to all the mess is what you and I have embraced for our health care system. (I did hear him say, though, that he wishes he had included that in his piece.) I also would be open to evidence that what he says about tort reform is true. To date, the CBO says, as summarized by factcheck.org:

      limiting malpractice liability would reduce total national health care spending by about one-half of 1 percent, or about $11 billion this year. That would save taxpayers about $41 billion over the next decade in lower Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending for health care.

      Brill says reform would save “tens of billions of dollars a year,” but offers no evidence that I remember. I am not opposed to such reform in principle, but if it doesn’t save that much money, I don’t think the trade off is necessarily worth it.

      Finally, that AP article you referenced really pissed me off too. In fact, the Joplin Globe did a damn poll today on the issue, lifting the AP lede almost verbatim:

      joplin poll on wealthy taxpayers

      As you point out, neither the lede, nor this poll, tells us why the rich are paying more. And I was quite surprised that despite the article and despite the push-polling done here, people, even folks among the conservative Globe readership, still said it was “fair.”

      That’s a glimmer of hope.

      Duane

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      • Thanks, Duane, for the factcheck link on the CBO’s findings about the implications of tort reform. I’m glad to know the issue has been seriously examined, but at the same time the article doesn’t convince me that it has been resolved because it doesn’t reveal exactly how they got their numbers.

        My reservations are admittedly just from my gut, knowing that doctors are human and knowing how easy it is now to order excessive testing. That is, as I’m sure you know, a recurrent theme in analyses of excesses in the healthcare system. For example, in the NPR interview linked on my recent post, author Steven Brill relates how a doctor recently told him he had gotten a call from his hospital administrator complaining that the testing he ordered in one (unspecified) category was down 5% for the month and that he needed to get it back up. Now how can we expect the CBO to quantify that kind of stuff?

        Look, I know my gut isn’t calibrated, but it is telling me the problem is significant and that’s where my skepticism comes from. Having said that though, I do recognize that excessive shielding from liability carries the danger of patient damage. It’s a fine line.

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        • Jim,

          The example you gave (the administrator complaining about a lack of testing) doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with malpractice protection, does it? It is more a way for the hospital to bilk the consumer (and/or taxpayer), a state of affairs that Brill definitely nails in his great essay.

          Duane

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          • I submit that it does have to do with malpractice protection, Duane, in the sense that over-testing is an instinctive protective reaction to fear of malpractice lawsuits. The instance Brill points out, “head” injury, is a good example. In times past, mild concussions were generally treated with benign neglect but as more and more data accumulate it appears that such injuries do have lasting and cumulative effects. And, CAT scans have been shown to be great money-makers.

            If medicine were a “normal” capitalistic, i.e., competitive, business, which it is not, then the marginal cost of looking for, say, 1% likelihood’s would be uneconomical. But in the current economic environment the situation is reversed. Ordering excessive testing both insulates against future lawsuits and garners significantly larger profits. Couple this with letting doctors own the machines they prescribe and I think you have the worst possible scenario for holding down costs.

            Like

            • I agree that it’s “the worst possible scenario” potentially, but I still need more evidence that tort claims are driving the costs up that much. Other than that, I suppose it is what one chooses to emphasize. You said,

              Ordering excessive testing both insulates against future lawsuits and garners significantly larger profits.

              I happen to think that it is the latter that controls most of the decision making about testing. Excessive testing may insulate against losing future lawsuits, but I doubt very much if it does as much as people think to prevent a willing lawyer from bringing the lawsuit in the first place, which costs hospitals and doctors a lot, too.

              My own doctor, who works for Freeman and whose kids I coached in baseball, basically considers himself a wage slave. He has very little control over what he does in a given day and is constantly being pressured to see more patients, etc. He is not a happy guy. It’s all about making money for the hospital, which is an odd thing for “the area’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system.”

              Duane

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              • I think you might still be missing my point, Duane, and I’ve probably not said it well. Let me try this way: the GAO can not assess the effect of the tort issue on excessive testing because there are no criteria for it. It comes down to a medical opinion as to what’s excessive and in the present system there is no incentive to decline testing when in doubt. So I’m not talking about actual court cases, it’s about human nature.

                As for your perceptive remark about not-for-profits’ concern for making money, Steven Brill covers that well in his article (in case you didin’t notice). “Nonprofits” do make profits, huge ones, they just don’t call it that. What happens to the money? It simply winds up grossly inflating salaries, principally for administrators, and buying more and newer and flashier architecture and machines. Freeman is a prominent example, they never seem to stop building.

                Like

                • Okay, Jim. I think I get it now. But I would submit, based on what you said (“the GAO can not assess the effect of the tort issue on excessive testing because there are no criteria for it…it’s about human nature”), that Brill’s original claim, that tort reform would save “tens of billions of dollars a year,” is not evidence-based, but an educated guess based on what is perceived to be the defensive practices of doctors and hospitals. But remember, we are not talking about the profit motive involved, when we are talking about tort claims and their relationship to the cost of medical care and Brill made a specific claim related to defensive medicine practices.

                  And since there is apparently no good way of ascertaining why doctors and hospitals order excessive tests, whether for defensive medicine or profit-making, I wouldn’t drastically limit the cap on claims, etc. (although I don’t think Brill was arguing that, as I recall; he seemed to be more in favor of establishing “good practices” criteria for everyone that would serve as a common sense level of diagnostic testing).

                  In any case, this is an important issue, and since Republicans cite it as their number one or number two reform idea, I wish there was more hard evidence is all I am really trying to say.

                  Duane

                  Like

  6. Duane,

    Well, you know me, I’m always on the lookout for a pertinent quote to help focus on the issue at hand. In this post, you are, justifiably, jumping the fourth estate for asking some unhelpful, if not downright stupid questions of the leader of the free world. Here is what one of the most inspirational television journalist of all time said about the press some 56 years ago:

    “Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.” — Edward R. Murrow, RTNDA Convention, Chicago, October 15, 1958

    There is nothing I can or would even attempt to add to that little pearl of wisdom.

    Herb

    Like

    • Herb,

      I’ve never read that Murrow quote before. It’s hard to believe he felt the same way 55 years ago that I feel today. When he said, “television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world,” we could today add to that so many other distractions.

      But think about it, given what we see around us, why not get ourselves insulated from reality, when there is damn little we can do about it?

      Maybe that’s why I drink so much.

      Duane

      Like

      • ansonburlingame

         /  March 6, 2013

        Boy oh boy, the effects of TV on American politics and life on a broader scale. On balance I would suggest a summary phrase is “not so good” or even “bad”. But what should be done is the question I suppose. More government control anyone?

        I for one at least have not watched any TV “news” since last fall, or opinion on TV either, by and large. That includes Fox “News” and for sure MSNBC also!! 60 Minutes is as far as I wander today in that regard.

        Anson

        Like

        • Anson,

          I have a challenge for you this Saturday (or Sunday) morning from 7:00am to 9:00am. Watch “Up” with Chris Hayes on MSNBC. Then report back to me and tell me, no matter what you think of the information presented on the show, that TV is a waste of time.

          Duane

          Like

  7. ansonburlingame

     /  March 5, 2013

    Duane,

    I read your link above. Democrats said in 1985 that a Reagan budget was DOA in 1985. Yet Congress passed a budget in 1985 and for sure the appropriation bills to go along with it, as I recall.

    Obama has submitted four budgets and we are awaiting the 5th one, a little late as you admit. Golf was not the reason however. It was politics and you know it. No way will THIS President submit a budget NOW and let it get voted DOWN in the SENATE, again, the Dem controlled Senate. What was it, a 96-0 vote the last time an Obama budget went to a vote in the Senate, again a DEMOCRATIC controlled Senate.

    I cannot think of a more pertinent example of a failure to LEAD on the part of THIS President. Budgets, spending, taxes are the MOST sensitive and important matters facing this country right now. By law a President is suppose to take the LEAD on that effort by submitting to Congress HIS path forward and letting that submission be the basis for future debate to produce a BUDGET, which the country has now failed to do for 4 long years and counting now.

    You are a master at ripping apart anything the GOP tries to pass but FAIL to put your own ideas down for debate, like just how much SHOULD we plan to spend in 2013, 2014, etc. No I don’t expect YOU to do that but I sure expect the President to do that, each and every year as required by LAW to do so.

    We have now struggled for 4 years and counting to “continuing resolution” our way out of a financial mess. That is a cop out and I think we both agree on that point. And the fall back position, without budgets to battle over, is the end result of trying to “manage by debt ceilings” and threaten a full government shutdown every six months or so along the way.

    That is not GOVERNING. Nor is it good Presidential leadership. It is nothing more than street level politics, Chicago style and we stagger from stalemate to stalemate when the country is governed in such a manner.

    And remember if you can, Reagan agreed, ultimately to Congressional actions to fund the federal government each and every year even when he did not particularly like such actions along the way. All Obama has agreed to as best I can tell is “continuing resolutions” to…..?

    In war a leader only has to convince people on HIS side to follow. They then go forth and “kill the enemy” who obviously disagrees. That is now your solution to domestic leadership and for years now you try to “kill the enemy”, the GOP. That is not domestic leadership it is domestic warfare. Good leaders get detractors to FOLLOW the lead, domestically. Bush did it for a short while, post 9/11, and since then we have had NO Presidential leadership of the sort I write about herein, EXCEPT, maybe, resolution of the “fiscal cliff” where finally Obama got a tax increase on the rich and now still wants more and more of the same.

    And the real irony of that move, increase taxes on the rich by $60 Billion a year and turn around one month later and spend IT, the whole tax increase on a NEW program, Hurricane Sandy relief. Tax and spend, Tax and spend, tax and spend!!!!

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      1) Presidential budgets are not quite as metaphysically significant as you pretend, except perhaps as a political document to either praise the president or hammer him. No one believes that President Obama’s budget this year, when it finally gets finished, will convince Billy Long to, say, embrace more funding for Pell grants.

      2) I know where your obsession with continuing resolutions versus budgets comes from, since it has been something Republicans utter every other minute on Fox and elsewhere. And I will agree that in a better world, appropriations bills should be regular order, since CRs burden the various agencies involved.

      But the truth is that Republicans would attempt to poison with amendments any budget bill, should Democrats finally get one to the floor, as they promise to do this year. That’s the way this stuff works. Democrats play that game too.

      That is why CRs, which have been around since the 1870s or so, have become a fairly normal way of operating in Congress. The Financial Management Service (part of the Treasury Department) can help you, perhaps, get over your obsession with the messed-up budget process:

        -With the exception of three fiscal years (FY 1989, FY 1995, FY 1997), at least one CR has been enacted each fiscal year since 1955.
        -Over the past 35 years the nature, scope, and durations of CRs has expanded.
        -From the early 1970s – 1987, CRs expanded from interim funding measures (brief) to providing funding in lieu of appropriations bill through the end of the fiscal year.
        -In some cases these measures included the full text of regular appropriations bills and/or substantive legislation.
        -CRs are attractive vehicles for substantive legislation because they are considered must-pass legislation.
        -Since 1988 CRs have tended to be interim funding measures with less substantive legislation.
        -From 1962-1981, 85 percent of the appropriations bills for Federal agencies were enacted after the start of the fiscal year and thus required CRs.
        -For 24 of the 28 FYs between FY 1977 and FY 2004, Congress did not complete action on a majority of the 13 regular appropriations by the start of the fiscal year.
        -In eight of those years they did not finish any of the bills by the start of the new year.
        -For FY 1978-FY 1988, Congress enacted a full-year CR each year. Twenty-one CRs were enacted for FY 2001

      Duane

      Like

  8. ansonburlingame

     /  March 6, 2013

    Duane,

    I give you high credit for good research on CRs. I did not realize they were as pervasive as you show above. But that does not make them “right”, the right way to govern as laid out Constitutionally and in accordance with standing law.

    A President is our chosen leader and should be expected to promote his domestic agenda in the halls of Congress. But when Congress, particularly the House which is constitutionally “closer to the people”, rejects his approach, well the President should “bend”.

    It has not be new news to anyone that ever since Obama took office his agenda, financially, is for the rich to “pay a little bit more”. Except for the last round of fiscal cliff politics, good politics on the part of the administration (we can argue over the policy), he has failed miserably to get anyone opposition to follow his lead. Thus compromise which has failed as well, particularly under Senate Dem leadership when no votes are debated or taken on tough financial issues.

    You can polemically condemn the GOP all you like on policy but you must admit they at least have put their policy views in writing, in legislation, which was then passed as legislation, democratically. Not so by and large with Dems. Instead they try to govern with speeches, condemning the GOP and never putting something in writing and then hold a public debate to defend those views in Congress.

    ACA is one exception, a major policy disbute that was ultimately passed democratically. But it was brute force as well without a single positive vote from the other side and we still don’t really know what’s in the bill for another year or so! Next year, 2014 should be interesting, politically as people start being force to buy HC insurance or see a looming bill to the IRS that must be paid (after the mid term elections however).

    I hope you watched 60 Minutes last Sunday and saw all those vacant cities in China. Then compare those pictures to Detroit today in America. Now fast forward 50 years and consider….. if we keep spending the way we try to do today!!

    Detroit is only a microcosm for sure. But Detroit has been flooded with federal, state and local government money since the 1960s. To me it is a classic example of using taxpayer money to raise people out of poverty. And just look today some almost 60 years since we started down that path in Detroit alone and just as an example.

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      Not surprisingly, I disagree with your notion that Obama has to further “bend” to the will of the House Republicans. They represent a tiny sliver of the electorate and are not “closer to the people.” That’s nonsensical.

      As for the tactics by Democrats not to “put their policy views in writing,” you must be speaking of Senate Democrats (because, for instance, the Progressive Caucus in the House has done so many times). But there is a good reason that the Senate Democrats have not done so: there is no chance that their policy priorities could get passed the Tea Party-dominated House and all that would happen is that Republicans would pummel them, using what the Democrats do to deflect from their own radicalism.

      The bottom line is that as long as the Tea Party controls a disproportionate number of congressional seats, no good governance will take place, and indeed, no governance at all will take place (unless Democrats cave in to their demands).

      I did see the 60 Minutes piece and was impressed with their stupidity. What a waste of resources for a country that has so many billions of poor people. But I fail to see the connection with Detroit. The federal government did not build Detroit, no matter what you are trying to suggest here. The Chinese government has spent, according to the 60 minutes piece, “some $2 trillion” to build those empty cities. And they allowed folks to invest their hard-earned money in apartments that no one can afford to live in. Please explain to me how that is comparable to what happened in Detroit?

      I’ll help you: You can’t explain it.

      Duane

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