August 17, 2011
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OPINION: President busy thinking up ways to annoy Republicans
With no real political clout on Capitol Hill and a job approval rating that has stayed mostly below 50 percent for a long time, Obama is trying to leverage the power he has left to force his agenda on the Republican majority.
While Republicans argue among themselves over what to do about Obamacare — Defund it? Delay it? Give up the fight to repeal it? — a coalition of wealthy and determined liberal groups is preparing to strike back at GOP efforts to stop the president’s health care scheme.
The Affordable Care Act originally passed the House in 2009 with 220 votes, all but one of them Democrats. Recently 251 members of the House, including 22 Democrats, voted to postpone for one year implementation of the heart of the act — the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. If this were any other issue, liberal commentators might see a governing majority emerging in favor of delaying Obamacare.
As a not-so-serious part of their ongoing effort to get rid of Obamacare, House Republicans in May started a Twitter fight they called #ObamacareInThreeWords. Rep. Darrell Issa got things started with a tweet that said simply, "Serious Sticker Shock." Rep. Michele Bachmann added "IRS In Charge." Sen. Richard Burr tossed in "Huge Train Wreck."
In the end, immigration reform really was a done deal in the Senate. Debates come down to numbers on Capitol Hill, and the Gang of Eight reform team had the numbers. Needing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, they started with the Senate’s 54 Democrats and then added the four Republican Gang members. With 58 votes in the bag, it wasn’t hard to get to 60. So most of the 14 Republicans who ultimately voted for the bill were extras, not needed for passage but helpful to allow the reformers to claim a broad mandate.
The issue of judicial nominations causes an outbreak of hypocrisy in both political parties, and President Obama isn’t immune. In fact, he seems to have come down with a particularly bad case lately.
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker visited Iowa recently to speak at a well-attended Republican dinner, only one national political reporter (NBC’s Alex Moe) showed up. That just proves you don’t need national press attention to make a strong start in the 2016 Republican presidential race.
Security along the U.S. border with Mexico is perhaps the key factor in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform.
There will be an event on Capitol Hill this week that will tell us a lot about the future of comprehensive immigration reform.
Are snowboard instructors key to American immigration policy? Well, they’re important enough to be specifically included in the Senate bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration reform bill.
After six months of mulling over November’s election results, many Republicans remain convinced that the party’s only path to future victory is to improve the GOP’s appeal to Hispanic voters. But how many Hispanic voters do Republicans need to attract before the party can again win the White House?
Members of the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight stress that under their new immigration plan, currently illegal immigrants will have to wait more than a decade before achieving citizenship. Newly legalized immigrants will be given a provisional status and “will have to stay in that status until at least 10 years elapse and (border security) triggers are met,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News on April 14. After that, Rubio said, they’ll have to wait longer for a green card and, ultimately, citizenship.
Passing major legislation is not a path to the presidency. So why is Sen. Marco Rubio, who is almost surely running for the 2016 Republican nomination, working so hard on comprehensive immigration reform?
If Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, it will depend on the Obama administration to enforce the law. How might that work?
If there was any villain at the just-completed Conservative Political Action Conference, it was the generic figure of the Republican political consultant. Overpaid, unprincipled, always on the lookout for the next client — or easy mark — the consultants, to listen to a number of CPAC speakers, have helped bring the Republican Party to its current low state.
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Nine months ago, Barack Obama likened his Republican opposition to an illness. If he could just defeat Mitt Romney, Obama said, then the illness might subside. “I believe that if we’re successful in this election — when we’re successful in this election — that the fever may break,” Obama told a fundraiser in Minneapolis last June.
A brief moment February 13 showed why President Obama can’t win when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline. In front of the White House, protesters led by actress Daryl Hannah and the head of the Sierra Club demanded that Obama kill the project. Just a few blocks away, the head of the AFL-CIO’s powerful Building and Construction Trades Department joined with the American Petroleum Institute to demand that Obama approve it.
To hear Sen. Charles Schumer tell it, lawmakers crafting an immigration reform bill will focus on two big tasks. “First, defining metrics that demonstrate that the border is secure,” the New York Democrat explained at a Jan. 31 news conference. “Second, defining exactly what the path to citizenship looks like and how it proceeds.”
‘While we were playing footsie debating each other 22 times, they were spending $100 million on technology,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said recently, referring to his party’s rigorous debate schedule in the 2012 GOP presidential primary season. The last campaign, many Republican insiders said during a recent RNC meeting, had too many debates, the result of which was a GOP arguing with itself while Democrats prepared the way for Barack Obama’s victory.
Many Republicans have accused Barack Obama of ignoring the economy. That’s not true. The problem with Obama is not that he has ignored the economy, but that it was never his top priority in his first term as president, even as millions of Americans suffered the consequences of a devastating economic downturn.
This March will mark three years since Obamacare became law, and it still has not had any serious effect on most Americans’ lives. That’s the way President Obama and the law’s Democratic authors planned it; they conveniently pushed the dislocations and unhappy consequences of national health care well past their re-election campaigns.
This March will mark three years since Obamacare became law, and it still has not had any serious effect on most Americans' lives. That's the way President Obama and the law's Democratic authors planned it; they conveniently pushed the dislocations and unhappy consequences of national health care well past their re-election campaigns. But Obamacare will be here soon, with an Oct. 1, 2013, start of enrollment in insurance exchanges and a Jan. 1, 2014, deadline for full implementation. The political results could be deeply painful for Democrats.
In January 2008, at a John McCain rally in Columbia, S.C., I asked a number of local politicos to look back to the brutal 2000 Republican primary in their state, the one between McCain and George W. Bush. They had all supported Bush back then, and I asked whether, given the inconclusive wars, runaway federal spending and economic catastrophe of the next eight years, they felt they made the right choice.
With Mitt Romney’s defeat and the loss of Republican seats in both House and Senate, the balance of power in the GOP has shifted. Republican governors — the one group that actually increased its numbers on Nov. 6 — believe they should take a bigger and more influential role in establishing the party’s direction.
In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss, many Republicans say the GOP must make far-reaching changes to be competitive in future elections.
As Mitt Romney campaigns on the promise to repeal Obamacare, some Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to learn more about what the national health care law will actually do when it is fully implemented in 2014. Romney would do well to take a look at what they've discovered.
As the campaign enters its final month, President Obama is enjoying more than just a lead in most polls. He's also enjoying Republican insiders slamming Mitt Romney for various faults, real and perceived, while potentially huge problems for the president -- the investigation into what happened at the Libyan consulate attack, a devastating blow suffered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Obama's lack of a plan to deal with the coming entitlement crisis, to name just three -- go largely undiscussed in much of the press.
Mitt Romney has just one job going into the last stretch of the presidential campaign. He has to connect with people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but are disappointed with the president now. He has to assure them that they didn't make a mistake back then, that it wasn't crazy or stupid to believe Obama's promises, but that things just haven't worked out. And he has to convince them it's OK to choose a new candidate this time around; they don't owe Obama another vote.
The Romney campaign likes to project an image of great confidence. It sees itself as an organization that doesn’t panic when things go wrong and doesn’t jump when critics, especially nervous Republicans, urge Romney to change direction.
Conservatives worry that if Barack Obama is re-elected, today's trillion-plus federal deficits and ballooning national debt will continue to grow far into the future.
It's always been a challenge for Mitt Romney to explain the differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. The two programs share a lot of the same features -- mandate, penalties, subsidies, exchanges and others. Romney has consistently argued that those provisions are acceptable, even good, at the state level, but not acceptable, and in some cases not even constitutional, at the federal level.
No one knew it at the time, but the key moment in the Supreme Court Obamacare case came on March 26, the first day of oral arguments, when few people were paying close attention.
Mitt Romney's main argument for his presidential candidacy is that if voters want a leader who can fix the economy, they should elect someone who knows and understands FOR OBAMA, WORKING FOR BUSINESS WAS WORKING FOR ENEMY and likes -- business.
What is it with Barack Obama and 27 months? Listen to the president and his aides talk, and you'll soon hear claims that the administration has accomplished great things in the last 27 months.
A lot of political insiders in both parties think Bain Capital is pretty much a dead issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Not all campaign books are treated equally. Just look at Edward Klein and J.H. Hatfield.
Birtherism -- the belief that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not in the United States -- pretty much died last year when the White House released a copy of the president's long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961. After that, the number of Americans who doubted Obama's place of birth dropped dramatically.
In the early days of the Obama administration, a lot of people, including some Republicans, weren't much bothered by the new president's tendency to blame his predecessor for the nation's problems. After all, Barack Obama did inherit a mess from George W. Bush. The voters were inclined to give Obama time to turn things around.
Watching Newt Gingrich’s graceful and low-key withdrawal from the presidential race last week, it was hard not to think back to January in Columbia, S.C., when he drew a wall-to-wall, fired-up crowd to celebrate his blowout victory in that state’s primary.
'There will be an effort," Mitt Romney said recently, "by the, quote, vast left-wing conspiracy to work together to put out their message and attack me."
While much of the political world obsesses over Twitter fights and Seamus the dog, Barack Obama has set himself up for a high-profile defeat on one of the most important issues of the campaign.
Bay Buchanan, the Republican activist who often speaks publicly on behalf of Mitt Romney, baffled a group of reporters recently when she threw out a statistic no one had heard before.
In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act by huge bipartisan votes -- 342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the measure into law. Now, the Obama administration says DOMA, which permits states to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states and creates a federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.
During the long, painful debate that led to the passage of Obamacare, Republican lawmakers made a single request of their colleagues, the press and the public: Please read the 2,700-page bill.
To hear the White House tell it, Barack Obama might be the most pipeline-friendly president ever to occupy the Oval Office.
On March 14, the Romney campaign's political director, Rich Beeson, sent out a message touting Mitt Romney's recent delegate pickups. Yes, Rick Santorum had won Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas, Beeson said, but "Governor Romney's wins over the same period in Wyoming, the Northern Marianas, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii and American Samoa have helped expand his delegate lead, pushing him closer to the nomination."
Several critics, most of them conservatives, have complained that "Game Change," the HBO movie made from the best-selling 2008 presidential campaign book, portrays Sarah Palin as profoundly stupid. Indeed it does.
Andrew Breitbart, the Web entrepreneur, writer, provocateur and television personality who died suddenly last week at 43, always described himself as an "accidental culture warrior."
There's a lot of buzz in the political world about "Game Change," the movie version of the 2008 campaign best-seller that premieres next month on HBO.
The reasons for Santorum’s defeat are too complicated for a 30-second ad or a brief answer at a debate. He can blame a lot of factors, but in the end he was most responsible for his own fate. Now, if Santorum’s presidential campaign continues to soar, he’ll likely have to discuss the ’06 defeat more. The Romney campaign will point to it as proof that Santorum can’t win the White House. Santorum’s job is to tell voters — and prove to them with his actions — that he has learned from his loss, and that he’s a better candidate for it.
Mitt Romney was born and raised in Michigan and has ties to Utah. Yet he chose to make his career, both in business and politics, in Massachusetts. Nearly every political problem Romney has today, at least those involving his policy positions, stems from that one decision.
Lately, Romney has begun to speak a little more openly about his church work. In a Dec. 12 Republican debate in Iowa, he mentioned his overseas missionary service and said, “I also spent time in this country, serving as a pastor in my church.” By all accounts, Romney did a lot of good in his time as a Mormon official, and that work was a significant part of his life. In the coming campaign, voters will want to know more about it.
All across Iowa, Republican candidates are trying to cram as much campaigning as possible into the days remaining before the Jan. 3 caucuses, all the while taking care not to get in the way of the voters’ real lives during the holiday rush.
They’re not the only ones surprised. Barring some dramatic change, Gingrich’s rise is the late-breaking development everybody was looking for — and nobody expected.
Cathy Gibbons is a one-woman focus group for Republican attitudes toward Newt Gingrich. Back in the ‘90s, Gibbons grew tired of Gingrich when he was speaker of the House. But this year, after watching Gingrich at Republican presidential debates, she sees him as a different man — and the best candidate in the field.
Is there any more dangerous position in politics than being the surging front-runner in the Republican presidential race? Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain have all been in that seat, and all have fallen out. Now, it’s Newt Gingrich’s turn, and the former House speaker, for all his new popularity, is in an extremely perilous place.
On Nov. 4, at precisely the moment Herman Cain was basking in applause at a conservative activists’ gathering in Washington, D.C., Newt Gingrich was in a small conference room at the Marriott Hotel here discussing cognitive illness with three brain scientists.
This could have been Tim Pawlenty’s moment. With many Republicans writing off Rick Perry, worried Herman Cain can’t last, and perpetually dissatisfied with Mitt Romney, the former Minnesota governor might have gotten another look, had he stayed in the race. Given all the changes that have taken place in the GOP presidential contest, who knows? Pawlenty might have been a serious contender by now.
Do Republicans believe Marco Rubio? While much of the political world has been obsessing over decisions by Chris Christie and Sarah Palin not to run for president, the freshman senator from Florida has been making a series of increasingly Shermanesque vows to turn down any offer to join a Republican ticket as a vice presidential candidate.
For generations, Democrats longed for a president who could enact national health care. Barack Obama did it. And now many Democrats are afraid to be seen with him. Some gratitude.
A challenge on immigration is in the offing for Perry. How he handles it could determine the success or failure of his candidacy.
In June 2009, as he fought to pass the Democrats’ national health care bill, President Obama made a clear, unequivocal pledge.
At their best, debates tell us new things about candidates and allow us to learn more about aspects of their personalities we haven't seen before.