U.S. Congress: On the Selection of Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader, Republican Ascendency in 112th Congress

Nancy Pelosi: I don’t agree with the notion that there has to be a scapegoat for political losses (apparently the majority that voted for her to be minority leader may agree with this notion). The fact is that the electorate does not have to give any party a majority; this is an element of political risk (a notion recognized by future Leader Pelosi in a New York Times magazine article).

It would have been wrong to discharge the leadership team because of an electoral loss. It’s not Pelosi’s fault that the Senate is in institutional crisis and failure and could not act on any of the House-passed bills. Nor would it have been wise to allow the Republicans to engineer disruption in the party and indirectly select a leader like Fox News did with Alan Colmes next to Sean Hannity. I’m proud that the Democrats held firm in the face of determined and destructive opposition tactics from the Republicans.

Republicans: I eagerly await the GOP’s ascendancy to power. The time for gloating will be over once they realize the albatross of crisis will be on their necks. Serious problems requiring thought and careful action are on the horizon. Will the GOP’s talking points for the wealthiest 2 percent of society be sufficient? I don’t think so, but I will have to take a wait-and-see approach.

WMATA: Washington Council Of Government’s “Moving Metro Forward” Has Flaw–Lack of Evaluation of Metro’s Funding

While the Joint Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA or Metro) Governance Review Task Force produced a document (“Moving Metro Forward“) for discussion of the organization structure of Metro.  But the reason why the current structure is ineffective is that the people on the Metro Board do not control or govern revenue to maintain or operate the system. That responsibility is in the control of Congress, and the state legislatures Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia’s City Council. Because the Joint Council of Governments and the Board of Trade Task Force dismissed the critical effect of the funding situation, the document falls short on providing a way beyond the Metro’s challenges.

Other challenges facing Metro:

  • Metro’s Compact is designed for constructing the system as it stands, not for operating it. The Compact is long overdue for an overhaul (perhaps the Joint WMATA Governance Review Task Force could be helpful during that activity).
  • The WMATA is subject to jurisdictional budget processes (not necessarily coordinated).

The DC metropolitan area’s rail and bus system is a capital asset, requiring money to build and maintain, but also assists to produce money for the separate jurisdictions through the movement of people to the various points of destination. Despite this fact, the Metro system is left to beg for money for its capital goods and operations. This is an unacceptable situation given Metro’s contribution to the daily lives of many residents and visitors to the DC area and must be resolved.

President Barack Obama: Overuse of the So-Called Shock Doctrine to Push Unpalatable and Unacceptable Policy

[Update 11/11/10:   So unsurprising. Huffington PostWhite House Gives In On Bush Tax Cuts.]

Observing the actions of President Barack Obama in terms of his policy positions, I have come to the conclusion that he uses the “Shock Doctrine” to force the acceptance of rightward-leaning policy. It does not help that President is a member of the Ivy-League class and a millionaire (classic elements of the limousine “liberal”, which today means a politician who favors unpalatable policies for others, which will not affect the politician’s (President Obama’s) class because of political power or wealth).

Several issues come to mind as I contemplate this thesis.

Results of the mid-term elections. The reversal of power in the House (60-seat switch) will be used as the basis of proposing even further right leaning policy, as I explained in a previous post. President Obama was quite equivocal in his acceptance of the Republican ascendancy to power. If, as I believe, he favors right-leaning policy, what better scenario to use than the “shock” of Republican control.

Acceptance of the “Bush tax cuts” (soon to be the “Obama tax cuts”). Regardless that the tax cuts used to stimulate the factors of production have generated only wealth accumulation in the wealth classes, growing national debt, reduced national manufacturing and outsourcing of jobs, and a economic recession, one would think it would be clear that the tax policy is not working and a return to previous rates is warranted. But Obama is in the mood to “negotiate.” I think President Obama will accept an extension of the tax cuts in full and that they will be extended on an annual basis because no one will want to take the political risk of raising taxes to a level that existed in the near-past late 1990s to early 2000s.

Social Security. Despite the fact that every working age person in the United States pays for Social Security through the FICA tax (the benefits once received can also be taxed as income), The policy options on the table have involved all manner of benefit cuts so that the politicians can continue to use the surplus amount between benefits paid and contributions received for tax cuts and other non-Social-Security programs.

I have absolutely no confidence in President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

President Barack Obama: Will Likely Continue to Tilt Rightward in Light of Mid-Term Election Results

It seems that President Barack Obama may be interpreting the so-called shellacking (not outside recent historical norms as I discussed in a previous post) to his seeming tilt to the working folk of America. As a result, he will tilt further right politically in the next two years, especially as he nears his own re-election.

I say that President Obama was already tilted toward the right of center and the elites long before the 2010 election, especially since he stated that the health-care bill that was passed with a split in the Democratic Party was a bill with Republican underpinnings.

Even with President Obama’s and the conservative Democrats’ accommodation of the Republicans (who refused his entreaties), Democrats in swing districts still lost. Perhaps since those Democrats were Republican-like, the voters decided to vote for the genuine article.

Regardless of the reasoning for the loss of Democratic losses, the election left the method of some Democrats to lean toward Republicans (and abandon true-believer Democrats) as a failure.  An example of this was seen by the slow-footed response to the wrongful treatment of Shirley Sherrod.

Some issues coming up will show what President Obama will do in light of a shift in the political reality. Consistent with his 2-year attempt to satisfy Republicans, I believe President Obama will continue to conduct his politics that way now that Republicans, for now, control the House of Representatives. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear that President Obama must essentially become a Republican to satisfy them.

On the issue of extending the “Bush tax cuts,” President Obama stated an implicit willingness to provide an extension.

So my goal is to sit down with Speaker-elect Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Harry and Nancy sometime in the next few weeks and see where we can move forward in a way that, first of all, does no harm; that extends those tax cuts that are very important for middle-class families; also extends those provisions that are important to encourage businesses to invest, and provide businesses some certainty over the next year or two.

And how that negotiation works itself out I think is too early to say.  But this is going to be one of my top priorities, and my hope is, is that given we all have an interest in growing the economy and encouraging job growth, that we’re not going to play brinksmanship but instead we’re going to act responsibly.

His press secretary followed up with a confirmation of the plan to negotiate with the GOP on the Bush tax cuts.

MR. GIBBS:  I don’t want to do the negotiations here, but we’re certainly open to listening to their position, talking about it and working together to find a compromise that moves this issue forward.  Our biggest concern is if this Congress does not act by the end of the year, taxes for middle-class families is going to go up.  We can’t, and we shouldn’t, let that happen.  We have the power to change that and I think the power is sitting together and coming up with a plan that works for both sides.  I think the President is confident that we can do that.

2010 Election: Democrats Took a “Shellacking” Yesterday, but the GOP also Felt the Loss-of-Majority Pain

The Republicans took control (currently 239 R 186 D) of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. President Barack Obama called it a “shellacking” at his news conference, but in reality, the transfer of power is not that out of the ordinary historically speaking (see this PDF  U.S. H.R. control (also available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/41357483/Cong-Control)).

Apparently, a good number of the losses on the Democratic side came from the so called Blue Dogs.