Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Let the swearing [in] begin

Post updated with more information covering President Bush and Congress.

A while back, I wrote an in-depth analysis on the Democrat's win in the US Congress and what is to come in the American political climate. Now, that blog post will be put to the test as the 100th Congress will be sworn in tomorrow, 4 January 2006. Get ready for Congress v. White House for at least the next two years! (As if Congress v. Congress wasn't bad enough.)

As I covered in the aforementioned post, (from The Guardian):

The proposed legislation from the Democrats includes:
· Ethics reform, with a ban on gifts from lobbyists to congressmen and other controls;
· A rise in the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour;
· An end to the Bush administration's restrictions on stem cell research;
· Implementation of the recommendations of the commission on the 9/11 terror attacks;
· A plan for the federal government to negotiate cheaper prices for prescription drugs;
· And the halving of interest rates on student loans.
Many of those items listed are included in the so-called 100 hour plan House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi says she will bring to the table — and work on passing — within her first 100 hours as the first woman speaker of the house, and the first Democrat speaker in over a decade. (Just as a reminder, the speaker is similar to the Senate majority leader, but has more authority, power, etc. leading the lower legislative body, the House of Representatives.)

Also in the article,
President George Bush, who for nearly four years had a free hand in decision-making over the war in Iraq, faces a series of concerted challenges starting from tomorrow from a newly installed and assertive Democratic Congress.
"I think the White House will be answering lots of questions. There will be a blizzard of paper, and I think we are in for a year of examination of administration policy," said Stuart Rothenberg, who publishes a Washington newsletter.
Bush has his war, one of the major reasons the GOP lost in last November's midterm elections. Although economy was another issue say exit polling data and other post-election polls; albeit the economy was largely overlooked by the media in coverage after the election. The Democrats — well, Pelosi at least — have positive, progressive initiatives (those outlined above) that I for one want passed, but not only do the moderate-liberal Democrats have the White House and presidential veto as a stopper on this legislative road-map, but there are also conservative factions in the Democratic party that will not stand for some of the goals outlined by Pelosi and company.

It's hard to tell if this will be a strictly Pelosi v. Bush battle, but time will tell. Gridlock, as we all know, is an imminent fact. It's the seriousness of the gridlock and how it is dealt with that will be the major looming matters for Americans and their government.

One main thing the president says he wants to do is keep pork-barrel — 'earmark', unneeded costly legislation — to a minimum. The president has had plenty of chances to veto legislation that is bad and useless (pork-barrel spending too), but he has not used his veto then. Instead, Bush wastes it on a stem cell research bill that Congress and the American public opinion approved (MSNBC)!

Bush has been criticized from both sides for failing to keep big spending bills from being passed, what makes people think he will act any different now? This also zaps his credibility, although it was already mostly zapped on a large variety of issues — including dealing with Congress and the balance of [presidential] power in areas like wiretapping in the "war on terror". How can the American public expect him to hold to his 'working with Congress' word if he talks nonsense about a power he has never righteously executed?

President Bush also spoke of a plan to be able to balance the federal budget without raising taxes by 2012. Since he has already unbalanced the budget enough, I dunno if that would be hard or easy, impossible or feasible.

And as if signing statements were not bad enough... (NYT):
[Bush] also repeated his desire for legislation giving the president the power to delete individual provisions from spending bills, known as a line-item veto — a power that Congress, even when controlled by the same party as the president, has refused to grant.

Okay people, all this BS-talk of bipartisanship is over — or should be as of the 4th — and will be falling to its regular, previous levels once the real political battles begin. Bipartisan is only a word of phony rhetoric for American politicians; not a practice. Pelosi and a few other Democrats — and Republicans — have voiced their stance on the two parties (Democrat and Republican) and branches of government (executive and legislative) working together, especially on things they both agree on. But the obviously fabricated rhetoric streaming from the President Bush's mouth following the Democratic win has been amazing — and obviously not representative of his true intentions (it is politics after all). Even now, right before the new Congress convenes. BBC News:
US President George W Bush has urged his Democratic rivals to work with the White House, a day before the opening of a new session of Congress.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Bush called on Democrats "to set aside politics and look to the future".

The Democratically-led 100th United States Congress will be sworn in tomorrow, and, contrary to the president's bridge-building past (when he was governor of Texas, apparantly), there are already plenty of battles looming on the horizon for executive-legislative (White House-Capital Hill, presidential-Congressional) relations.

“We hope that when the president says compromise, it means more than ‘do it my way,’ which is what he’s meant in the past,” Mr. Schumer said.
Great quote by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a New York Times article that covers the upcoming Congress and its relation to the White House.

Song stuck in my head right now: "This River is Wild" by The Killers.

Technorati technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: