The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Speaker Pelosi.5:13 PM, Jan 29, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Obama supports a three-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending. The plan is likely to pass despite liberal opposition. The Speaker of the House of Representatives -- remember: she is second-in-line to assume the presidency -- says she would only back the freeze if it applied to defense spending, as well. You don't need me to say this is a ridiculous idea. Here's Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan: "That's kind of hard to do in the middle of a war." Not to mention incredibly unwise.
What makes Levin's utterance the Quote of the Day (So Far!)? It's not only that he slapped down Pelosi's foolishness. It's the way he did it--usually liberals reserve such condescension for conservatives alone!
Susan Ferrechio's piece in the Washington Examiner is worth reading in full, because it shows the widespread divisions emerging in the Democratic party: between leadership and rank-and-file, between House and Senate, between liberals and moderates and conservatives. Such arguments are unlikely to disappear as long as unemployment persists, the public remains divided on the president's performance, and Democrats are unable to pass legislation that (a) the public actually wants and (b) delivers tangible public goods.
"Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated," President Obama said in his State of the Union Address this week. Did he not realize that until now? At least the lesson is beginning to sink in. Because things are about to get noisier, messier, and a lot more complicated.
The dreadful consequences of a flood of red ink.3:47 PM, Jan 29, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Yesterday the Senate voted 60-39 to increase the United States debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. It's likely that if Scott Brown were in the Senate instead of Paul Kirk, the increase would not have passed and Democrats would have had to negotiate a different version.
Debt is quickly becoming the defining issue of our times. One of the reasons health care collapsed was the public's understanding that there is no realistic way to increase government obligations while shrinking government spending (accounting tricks notwithstanding). The CBO's latest long-term budget outlook is absolutely dismal. Obama endorsed the deficit commission and non-defense discretionary spending freeze to counter the GOP critique that he and the Democrats are big spenders. It will take more than a toothless commission and a negligible reduction in spending to change public attitudes, however.
A bad first State of the Union.7:07 AM, Jan 28, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The State of the Union address Obama delivered last night gave new meaning to the term "laundry list." It was an endless parade of campaign promises and presidential initiatives. It had no theme. The text literally could have been clipped together from the hundreds of speeches, press conferences, and town halls the president has delivered since beginning his run for the presidency three years ago.
People tuned in to see if the president would "pivot" to the center after Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts. The answer is no. He doubled-down on the stimulus--indeed, he wants another, much smaller, version. He called on the Senate to pass a climate bill that has absolutely no chance in 2010. He provided no clear strategy for Congress to pass a health care bill. His feints to the center on spending and "tax cuts" were transparently gimmicky. He used his favorite crutch: blame Bush and the Republicans for every obstacle his presidency encounters. He attacked and distorted a Supreme Court decision in front of the justices. By the time he got to foreign policy, you were no doubt looking at your watch. I know I was. By the time he finished, the feeling in the House chamber must have been exhaustion.
What a disappointing presidential address. What a bad omen for the Democrats in November.
Thank goodness for drinking games.11:56 AM, Jan 27, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address (or SOTU in D.C.-speak) today, in the midst of a full-scale Democratic panic attack. Read Jim Treacher's preview. Drinking game here.
Typically, the State of the Union is the worst sort of presidential address: a mind-numbingly tedious laundry list of foreign and domestic initiatives, with another list of feel-good or sob-stories appended to the end for easy applause. Tonight's speech is worth watching, however, just for the chance to see how Obama deals with the setbacks of the last week. Based on the lines that Robert Gibbs previewed on the morning shows, I expect Obama to focus heavily on the economy while denouncing the "special interests" that stand between the American people and the "change" they voted for in November 2008.
Not every gesture to the center works out as planned.12:15 PM, Jan 26, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Obama is a highly polarizing figure. The Gallup organization says that the "65 percentage-point gap between Democrats' (88%) and Republicans' (23%) average job approval ratings for Barack Obama is easily the largest for any president in his first year in office, greatly exceeding the prior high of 52 points for Bill Clinton." Thus Obama's approval rating, which hovers around 48 percent, depends in great part on overwhelming Democratic support. Eighty-two percent of Democrats approve of Obama's job performance, according to Gallup, compared to 18 percent of Republicans. The Pollster.com average of independent support finds more independents disapproving of the president (48 percent) than approving (43 percent).
The World's Most Influential Liberal isn't happy at the president.10:57 AM, Jan 26, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Paul Krugman, probably the world's most influential columnist, has long been skeptical of Barack Obama. These days, his skepticism is turning into disdain. If you read Krugman's blog, he often writes about Obama as if the president were a Republican--i.e., not favorably!
A political opportunity for the GOP.8:29 AM, Jan 26, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The instinctive Republican response (see, e.g., this RNC release) to President Obama’s call for a domestic discretionary spending freeze is to dismiss it as not serious—saying, oh, no, it’s not a real freeze because the baseline is high, and anyway he doesn’t mean it, and here’s what he said in the campaign, etc., etc.
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