Countdown to SOTUPosted: January 25, 2011
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
We’re going to be live blogging the SOTU address to night so be sure to join us. However, dribs and drabs of SOTU preview are hitting the media channels already. It’s probably good to do a round up of them before we settle in with our popcorn and disappointment.
Pursuing a path of deficit reduction and government reform, President Obama will tonight in his State of the Union address call for a ban on earmarks and he will propose a five year budget freeze on non-security related discretionary spending, ABC News has learned.
The proposals come as the president prepares to tackle the deficit and debt and as he faces a House of Representatives in Republican hands, many of whose members include those affiliated with the Tea Party who may be willing to embrace both moves.
The president will propose some new spending in certain areas that address the speech’s theme of “How We Win the Future”: innovation, education and infrastructure. But those increases will be proposed within the context of a proposed partial budget freeze.
In other words, the President’s State of the Union address will embrace the politically expedient while denying the obvious. Our country has a severe lack of critical mass of buyers with incomes to support their own discretionary spending. We also have levels of unacceptable unemployment all over this country which means less taxes and more outlays. To not specifically address what we know from 70 years of economic theory directly and continue living in a Reagan-like stupor over what really drives things like jobs and GDP growth is just morally reprehensible for any educated person in a leadership position. Look at that picture up there. There appears to be a huge group of them.
Earmarks aren’t a huge deal as I’ve showed in post after post on the actual numbers of the budget deficit. They make up less than 1 percent. That’s a political potato chip and no one seems to be able to eat just one. No wonder all the economists left the west wing and have been replaced by investment banker/lawyers. You can only fight an uphill right wing meme so long coming from a Democratic President.
ABC has a SOTU primer up that gives some history and sets some expectations. They believe that POTUS will make hay of the productive lame duck session.
While the election was heated, there has been a move since to tamp down the rhetoric and move toward bipartisan solutions. The lame-duck period after the election was particularly productive as Democrats and a few Republicans passed a number of bills before Republicans took control of the House this month.
Obama will likely point to this period as the way government should work. Obama will likely point to this period as the way government should work. Republicans grumbled at the time that Democrats took advantage of the lame-duck session, passing legislation before Republicans officially took control of the House in January.
If there is a possibility to get some infrastructure spending through at any meaningful level, then I could experience a little sense of relief. TPM believes that even some key Republicans will go along with that type of spending. Of course, that actually is a bit of an earmark isn’t it? Doesn’t every congressperson want their share of road funds or that new airport? How these get chosen and funded might just mean we see more earmarks in reality. However, any government spending that increases demand and spurs jobs at this point is preferable to none. I’d even take a few bridges to no where at this point.
One area the Republican party’s anti-spending crusade puts them in a bind is infrastructure spending. Repairing roads and bridges, modernization, etc. have historically been bipartisan priorities — but they’ve also always cost a lot of money.
Ask Republicans whether they want to include transportation infrastructure in their calls for broad spending cuts, and you don’t get a very specific answer.
“We’ve got to learn how to prioritize and do more with less in all areas of government,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at his weekly press conference today. “It just is what it is. In the terms of transportation, we’ve got to figure out ways how to leverage dollars, how to come up with innovative ways to address the nation’s ailing transportation infrastructure.”
The biggest problem getting these through congress will have to do with the Federal Accounting system as much as anything. You see, the government doesn’t depreciate or amortize things like battleships and dams. Expenditures are fully expensed so in terms of the budget deficit, things will get worse in the short term. This means there has to be a cease fire on the ‘size’ of the deficit on these kinds of items. Their benefits last for years. They create do create jobs and jobbers. The problem is they are an upfront cost and we live in a world of political football rhetoric that includes deliberate misunderstanding of economics as well as economics deniers.
It appears the conservative wing of SCOTUS will be boycotting the SOTU. The imperial wing of government will stay in their ideological bubble. Evidently Scalia would rather talk to people like Michelle Bachmann that can’t even get her American history straight then show some respect for the constitutional duties of the President.
Scalia wouldn’t say whether his colleagues on the high court planned to attend Tuesday night’s address.
Scalia spoke to The Hill briefly following an hour-long closed-door meeting with 30 to 40 House lawmakers on the Constitution’s separation of powers. The event was organized by Tea Party Caucus founder Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
Scalia said he told the members at the meeting to “follow the Constitution” but wouldn’t go into depth on his advice.
I’m still personally getting a kick out of the fact that Bachmann feels the need to do her own rebuttal when one of the biggest wackos in the senate already has the job. Which one will be more reality and history denying?
“This is not a competition,” Bachmann said. “I am very excited about Paul Ryan’s response. I think he’ll do a wonderful job. This was really a reaction that I was giving to people in the tea party,” she told reporters Monday evening after kicking off a series of constitutional seminars the Tea Party Caucus will be holding this year.
“I was extended an invitation by the Tea Party Express to speak to their membership. I never took this as a State of the Union response necessarily,” she said.
This ongoing civil war within the Republican party between the business overlords and the more populist and religious nutty nuts is just karma for the Southern Strategy as far as I’m concerned. Ryan’s duty is to play budget henchmen. This continues to amaze me. That so many Republicans are willing to introduce measures to take down the economy again for political gain is just plain disturbing on many levels.
Democrats hope they can make Ryan’s debut on the national political stage as disastrous as the rebuttal Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) delivered in 2009. Jindal’s stilted performance, which the media skewered, immediately quieted talk of him as a presidential contender in 2012.
Democrats are seizing on a vote scheduled Tuesday that will give Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, unilateral power to set the House-approved federal spending totals for fiscal 2011.
One Democratic aide characterized Ryan’s power to finalize the House budget numbers later this year as giving him “unprecedented power to carry out” cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
It’s an early skirmish in the battle between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over federal spending that will define the divided 112th Congress.
I’ve been poking around to look for hints about the 1 1/2 wars we continue to wage. Evidently, that’s not a hot topic nor is all the increased Homeland Security measures clashing with the Bill of Rights. Well, if it’s all about the economy, I’ll be able to call it at least, so, stay tuned …