House Republicans decided today to allow a vote to increase the debt ceiling for three months, insisting that in the interim the Senate must pass a budget, which the Senate hasn’t done in years.
The previous House position was that there would be no debt ceiling increase unless there are corresponding cuts. But all that went out the window as Republicans decided not to confront a president who has just been reelected and is about to preside over his own coronation while their own popularity ratings are in the dumps.
Do these Republicans ever think more than a move or two ahead? The other day Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the government was finished raising taxes. Sure.
At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney immediately commenced a victory dance.
We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on. Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay. And as he has said, the President remains committed to further reducing the deficit in a balanced way.
Pay its bills. As if Obama has nothing to do with all the money going out the door. I’m pretty sure he signs the spending bills, but I’ll check the Constitution to see if that’s how it works.
President Obama will remake his presidential campaign into a massive new movement devoted to supporting his agenda, an unprecedented move that creates a brand new political organization devoted not to a Party, not to an idea – but to one charismatic leader.
The group, to be called Organizing for Action, opens for business Sunday, the day Obama is officially inaugurated.
If this type of organization has existed before in American politics on any similar scale, I’m not aware of it.
There are excellent reasons why we haven’t had mass groups devoted to powerful leaders in this country. Our whole system of government is designed to provide checks to protect against the accretion of too much power, to forestall mob rule. A mass organization that does the bidding of a single individual who also happens to be the president of the United States undermines such intentions.
I don’t think Obama has plans to do something nefarious with this group. I think he wants a streamlined organization that will help him achieve his domestic agenda. But once such an organization is uncorked, it is impossible to tell what path it and its leader may travel as the frustrations with governing grow or crises ensue.
Other mass movements in the United States, including the political Parties, are devoted to ideas or causes. They have checks within them, factions that debate and influence each other. But this one is the reincarnation of Obama’s former campaign and, presumably, it will respond to his dictates.
After the 2008 election, the campaign apparatus was at least nominally stuck within the Democratic Party and largely put on ice until the next election. Not this time.
What’s more, according to Politico, OFA will be classified as a 501(c)4 group, which means donors can give it as much money as they want and none of the contributors’ names need be released. Never mind that Obama has ardently opposed this kind of thing for years.
Known during the campaign as Obama for America, the group includes the millions of people signed up to receive emails from the Obama campaign and thousands of activists ready to man phone banks, knock on doors, annoy their lawmakers and otherwise make things happen for the president.
The group was superbly well organized under campaign manager Jim Messina, who will maintain leadership. Senior Obama operatives like Robert Gibbs, David Plouffe, and Stephanie Cutter will sit on the board. The group will no doubt employ many of the leftist community organizing principles Obama learned years ago in Chicago.
In case there was any mistaking the very personal nature of the new organization, Obama himself announced it in an email to supporters and included a link to a video of Michelle discussing the group and mentioning things like “one of my first dates with Barack.”
Organizing for Action will put American politics on a new path. A treacherous one.
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