Columbia Journalism Review: In Hollywood and the accounts of many of the nation’s leading journalists, events in Washington revolve around the president, who is thought to have virtually unlimited powers to cajole, charm, threaten, or bribe legislators into enacting his agenda. Within this framework, the success or failure of the president’s legislative agenda is typically attributed to his tactics, not contextual factors like party support in Congress.
In reality, the idea that the President can force an uncooperative Congress to do his bidding has been falsified over and over again—not just during President Obama’s administration on issues like gun control, but during previous presidencies. Even Lyndon Baines Johnson, the prototypical presidential wheeler-dealer, became far less persuasive when the national political climate changed after the 1966 midterm elections (one aide commented that by the end LBJ “couldn’t get Mother’s Day through” Congress). And yet journalists and commentators still try to defend their misguided notions of presidential power, suggesting instead that, for instance, Obama is being held back by a lack of personal charm or a failure to twist enough arms in Congress.
KRDO (Colorado Springs, CO): The first lady and Jill Biden pushed companies to continue hiring veterans and their spouses. According to the Associated Press, 1 million members of the military are expected to join the civilian workforce over the next five years. Michelle Obama said companies have hired or trained 290,000 veterans in less than two years. However, she said, there is still work to be done. Statistics show the unemployment rate among veterans is lower than non-veterans.
Jill Biden said there are initiatives in Washington working to help military spouses as well called Military Spouse Employment Partnership. “This effort has helped spouses build strong resumes, has sponsored hiring fairs and created strong resume programs. Since its launch, more than 160 Fortune 500 employers have signed on to the partnership,” said Biden. “More than 43,000 military spouses have been hired.”
Pikes Peak Workforce Center is hosting a job fair geared toward veterans May 15-17 at Pikes Peak Community College. Amthor said 100 local and national companies have already signed on. Here is a link for more information on the job fair: http://mvee.org/
Kevin Drum: President Obama said today that he believes there are some Republicans in Congress who’d like to compromise with him to enact “common sense” solutions to America’s problems. I’m sympathetic, because I agree. I don’t think that Republicans have declined to make a budget deal because Obama didn’t schmooze them enough, or because they didn’t understand what he was offering, or because Democrats haven’t framed their compromise proposals quite right. Republicans have declined to make a deal because they don’t like any of the deals Obama is willing to make. Full stop. Unfortunately, I think Ed falls into the same trap when he suggests that Obama’s dinners with senators have gone quite far enough, thankyouverymuch.
All of which gets us to the guts of the problem: most likely, nothing is going to work. But if you’re the president, you can’t say that. You can’t even act like it. You have to go out day after day after day insisting that progress is possible and deals can be made. This gets you lots of flak from fellow lefties who think it displays terminal naiveté, but what choice do you have? Obama pretty obviously understands everything that his lefty critics understand—he’s not an idiot, and this is hardly rocket science, after all—but he also understands one other thing: he can’t admit it. I imagine it’s frustrating as hell. But like it or not, presidents have to keep their chin up in public and keep trying to make things happen, even if they know perfectly well that success is unlikely. Welcome to hell.
President Obama will announce Monday he has selected Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency and MIT physics professor Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department …. the President is also scheduled to announce he has selected Walmart Foundation President Sylvia Mathews Burwell as head of the Office of Management and Budget.
Michael Tomasky: Why does Bob Woodward get to lie — twice! — and still be Bob Woodward? And why is it that the Republicans can be so intransigent and Barack Obama gets blamed? Michael Tomasky explains.
Woodwardgate got me reflecting on the question of Washington morality. Now yes, that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. But surely there is some set (however bizarre) of impulses and rules that lets Bob Woodward say what he said, and Politico promote it as if it were a feud between two soap opera stars, with both walking away essentially unharmed, as they likely will …..
More important than that, there must be a set of impulses and rules that observes what has been going on in this town for the last four years, with Republicans being the most obstructionist opposition in the country’s modern history, and yet somehow contrives to blame Barack Obama for the fact that our government can’t function…..
Paul Krugman: Ezra Klein mans up and admits he was wrong. He had written a piece suggesting that if only Republicans knew how much Obama has been willing to offer, they might be willing to make a deal. Jonathan Chait set him straight, informing him that no matter what Obama put on the table, Republicans would find a way to say that it’s not enough. And sure enough, a Twitter exchange lets Klein watch that process in real time, as a top Republican consultant, confronted with evidence that Obama has already conceded what he said was all that was needed, keeps adding more demands.
….. the centrist pundits keep demanding that Obama offer what he has already offered, and condemn both sides equally (or even place most of the blame on Obama) for the failure to reach a deal. Again, informing them of their error wouldn’t help; their whole shtick is about blaming both sides, and they will always invent some reason why Obama just isn’t doing it right.
Steve Benen: Watching House Speaker John Boehner on “Meet the Press” yesterday, it was hard not to wonder about the Republican leader’s frame of mind. Given the distance between reality and his rhetoric, one question hung over the interview: does Boehner actually believe his own talking points?
For example, the Speaker insisted, “[T]here’s no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester.” Host David Gregory explained that the claim is “just not true”…..
Greg Sargent: Credit where credit is due: NBC’s David Gregory did a nice job pinning down John Boehner’s evasions and falsehoods during a lengthy interview on Meet the Press yesterday. Gregory called out Boehner for falsely claiming Dems have no plan to reduce the deficit. And Gregory didn’t let Boehner get away with suggesting Dems haven’t gotten serious about spending cuts, confronting the Speaker with the fact that they agreed to deep cuts in 2011.
But there’s still one question that I’d like to see posed to Boehner and every GOP lawmaker. It’s this: Is there any ratio of entitlement cuts to new revenues that Republicans could support, and if so, what is that ratio?
LA Times: OK, so Congress hasn’t managed to pass a budget, fix the tax code or avert the automatic spending cuts of the dreaded “sequester.”
Are they getting anything done on Capitol Hill? Yes, and you’ll probably be surprised to hear where progress is being made: gun control.
…. there is a good chance that Congress will do two things: strengthen the system of background checks on gun buyers and toughen the penalties for illegal gun trafficking. In practical terms, those measures are probably more important than an assault-weapons ban, which wouldn’t affect the millions of military-style guns already in circulation……
If Congress acts on background checks and gun trafficking but fails to pass a ban on assault weapons or ammunition clips, liberals will be disappointed. But President Obama will declare it a victory — and he’ll be right.
Addicting Info: House Republicans Give Themselves 239 Days Off, Average American Worker Only Gets 12
… even as House Republicans portray the average American as lazy bottom feeders sucking off the government teat, they have given themselves an astonishing 239 days off this year. That means they will only work 126 days during a year when the nation has a multitude of issues to deal with.
Washington Post: In Florida, President Obama has nominated the first openly gay black man to sit on a federal district court. In New York, he has nominated the first Asian American lesbian. And his pick for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit? The first South Asian.
Reelected with strong support from women, ethnic minorities and gays, Obama is moving quickly to change the face of the federal judiciary by the end of his second term, setting the stage for another series of drawn-out confrontations with Republicans in Congress.
Steve Benen: At the end of the month, deep, automatic sequestration cuts are due to kick in, hurting the economy, the Defense Department, and the general public…..
Today, President Obama said he and Congress have already approved more than $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction, and got to $4 trillion “with a balanced mix of spending cuts and more tax reform,” with the latter including changes “so that the wealthiest individuals and corporations can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.”
Is there time for a major budget agreement and a tax-reform compromise? Of course not, which is why Obama suggested Congress pass “a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with a smarter solution.”
And, of course, Republicans immediately rejected the idea and threatened to do deliberate harm to the economy…..