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Archive for Thursday, November 6, 2008

Democrats in Congress wary of overreaching

November 6, 2008

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— President-elect Barack Obama is facing a Congress with bulked-up Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate to put much of his agenda into law.

Obama will inherit a Congress with Democratic House and Senate majorities comparable to those enjoyed by President Clinton when the party last controlled both Congress and the White House in 1992. While Democrats are eager to churn out the new president's legislative programs, they're also anxious to avoid the electoral wipeout that swept them from power in the 1994 congressional elections.

That's one reason top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promise not to lurch to the left and give in to pent-up demands from party liberals.

"The country must be governed from the middle," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Wednesday. "You have to bring people together to reach consensus on solutions that are sustainable and acceptable to the American people."

One of the complications for Pelosi and Obama is the demise of GOP moderates like Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who lost his re-election bid.

"Never in modern day history has the Republican Party been more bereft of a center," said former Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa. "So the center has to come from the Democratic Party."

There are other reasons too, such as a coalition of Republicans and a few conservative Democrats in the Senate. In the House, a big bloc of moderate-to-conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats also could put the brakes on overreaching by Obama and allies like Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

But after 14 years of either a GOP-dominated Congress or a Republican president, Democratic Party regulars are under intense pressure to deliver on an agenda they've been promising long before Obama announced his bid for the White House.

"I'm not worried about overreaching," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "I'm worried about being too timid and too cautious, and not stepping up to the plate and doing what we promised we would do."

Added Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, "This election ushered in the next progressive era for our nation. From health care to trade to education, progressive values will now be the priority in Washington. It's time to get to work."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., countered that Democrats would impose "self-discipline" because so many House newcomers come from conservative-leaning districts.

"If we focus on the core issues of jobs, of health care, of education, of the environment ... I think we will not make mistakes," Hoyer said.

Inside Pelosi's caucus of House Democrats, whose numbers will swell to at least 254 from 235 now, some tensions are already apparent.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a liberal Pelosi ally, launched a bid to challenge 82-year-old Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for the chairmanship of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, and take the lead on issues like global warming, energy and health care. Dingell is a staunch protector of Detroit automakers, and his battles with Waxman over clean air laws date to the Reagan administration.

Dingell, who has either chaired the committee or been its top Democrat since 1981, was "mounting a full-out war" to save his chairmanship, a top adviser said Wednesday.

Republicans, too, are facing tensions and a shake-up of party leaders in the wake of Tuesday's disappointing election results.

Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia launched a bid to become GOP whip, the No. 2 post, while Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is seeking to replace Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida as the third-ranking Republican in the House. Putnam announced he would step down after Tuesday's losses for Republicans.

Comments

logicsound04 5 years, 5 months ago

First of all, I don't think competent military defense requires 1/5th of the federal budget, so yes, there is one area where we can save some money.Secondly, ending the Iraq War will save us a great deal of money.Furthermore, I think you are over-simplifying the goals of an Obama administration. He can work towards meeting his goals without adding a bunch of spending to the agenda.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 5 months ago

@Logicsound: They can accomplish their goals without breaking the bank only by taxing the H3ll out of the most successful in our country. I've never met a Democrat who wanted to cut entitlement spending so that's not going to happen. Maybe Barack and cut military (and our own throat in the process) to save money but ultimately it will come down to us footing the bill.And even if the govt took 100% of the money of those that make $250k or above, that would fund 60% of the govt as it stands today. If Barack increases spending, which he has to in order to meet his own stated goals, then those making over $250k are not the answer.It is you and I and everyone else trying to make it living under $250k who are going to be given a colonoscopy. Your screen name is "LogicSound", please bring logic to the through process....the government absolutely must increase the amount of my money that they take from me each year in order for Barack to implement his plans and balance the budget within his first term.Personally, I'm not as worried about breaking the bank as I am breaking the American family.

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logicsound04 5 years, 5 months ago

In my experience, Elephants produce a lot more poop than Donkeys.Of course, that doesn't really say anything about the 2 political parties.I'm hoping that the Democrats can effectively walk the tightrope--staying true to their goals/strategies while not saying bye-bye to restraint.I think that with some hard work, they can accomplish their goals without breaking the bank. It's all a matter of priorities.

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beobachter 5 years, 5 months ago

can't be as bad as the last 8 years have been with W's poop.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 5 months ago

@igby: Probably, but we're going to see the donkeys poop on all of us over the next 4 years.

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igby 5 years, 5 months ago

Bears do poop in the woods; don't they daddy? Lol.

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