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Today in Washington – May 26, 2010

Our President is unrealistic and naive.  President Obama had a closed door meeting with Republican Senators yesterday and it was “remarkably contentious” according to the Associated Press.

The president walked into a remarkably contentious 80-minute session Tuesday in which GOP senators accused him of duplicity, audacity and unbending partisanship. Lawmakers said the testy exchange left legislative logjams intact, and one GOP leader said nothing is likely to change before the November elections.

The Washington Post reports that Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) questioned “the audacity” of the President in asking for help on his priority issues when he has proven in the past to use partisan tactics to pass financial services deform and ObamaCare.  The House may take up the “Tax Extenders” bill today as the Senate puts in another day’s debate on the War Supplemental.  Both the House and Senate are preparing for a debate on the issue of “Dont’ Ask, Don’t Tell.” 

The issues for conservatives to watch today are:

  • Tax Extenders – Moderate Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) has reservations about the ability of the Senate to pass the so called “Tax Extenders” bill, because of the extraneous matters that have been inserted into the bill and designated as “emergency” spending.  If a provision is designated as emergency spending, then it avoids the PAYGO mandate that all new spending must be offset by cuts to other programs.  According to the Wall Street Journal, this legislation “renews a series of popular tax credits aimed at businesses and individuals. The cost of these extensions is offset by tax increases elsewhere in the U.S. budget.”  The problem is that the bill renews some spending programs that are not offset.  The WSJ reports that the ever controversial extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance subsidies are not offset.  This will cause problems for conservatives.  “Mr. Conrad said these two measure are justifiably considered emergency spending and shouldn’t have to be paid for by savings elsewhere in the budget.”  Moderate Democrats are going to have heartburn over some of the other pork added to the bill.  Here are some of the “emergency” items that are not paid for according to the WSJ, “$1 billion for a summer jobs program, and $63 billion over the next decade to avert a hefty decrease in fees paid to doctors who treat Medicare patients.”  This bill may become a partisan political exercise where the Democrats use the tax extenders bill to blame Republicans for stopping unemployment benefits to go to the 9.9% of Americans who have yet to see any ObamaStimulus.
  • War Supplemental-  Remember all of those lame talking points where leftist said that we have a huge federal debt because Bush’s unpaid for war in Afghanistan and Iraq?  See Daily Kos for an example of this talking point “the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the economic downturn together explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.”  Well, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) are fighting to have the War Supplemental appropriations bill offset — get ready for some lefty crying and hand wringing.  The Washington Post reports today that “Republican senators on Tuesday unveiled two $60 billion proposals that cut government salaries and operational costs to help pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for earthquake relief for Haiti.”  According to the Post, the first one would “cap the number of workers at each federal agency and implement a one-year freeze on pay raises, bonuses and other salary increases for civilian federal workers, saving $2.6 billion.”  Also according to the Post, the second offset would cut “congressional budgets by $100 million, orders the government to sell $15 billion in property and $250 million in unneeded equipment — at the discretion of the General Services Administration — and rescind $45 billion in unspent and uncommitted funding.”  Once these amendments fail, expect most Republicans to oppose the War Supplemental on the grounds that this Administration refuses to cut any programs to pay for military funding and relief efforts in Haiti.
  • Obama’s Katrina- Some in the media, Members of Congress and the American people are confused about who is in charge of stopping the oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.  There is a growing chorus that President Obama’s response to the BP accident may be similar to the embarrassing response of the Bush Administration during and following Hurricane Katrina.  The Washington Post reports that Senator John Barasso (R-Wyo.) argued yesterday was “Day 36″ since the well’s drilling rig exploded.  “The cloud of confusion over how much oil is spilling into the gulf is very concerning. And it’s also very unclear who was in charge.”  It is the perception of the media and the American people that the response has been slow and that this administration has no plan to solve the problem.  Maybe there is no realistic way to solve the problem, but, if that is so, then this Administration has not been honest.  The New Orleans Times-Picayune argues in an editorial that the White House is finally responding to America’s impatience with a slow response to the Gulf tragedy from President Obama himself.  “The White House appears to be getting the message. On Tuesday it announced that President Obama will travel to Louisiana Friday, the first time he will assess the cleanup on the ground since his May 2 visit.”  Only two trips to the Gulf while the President attends fundraisers for his preferred candidates and gets ready for a vacation — this does sound familiar to those who remember the sharp words of the main stream media during Bush’s Katrina.

The President should not expect much help in getting a global warming environmental bill passed when Senators are worried that his Administration can’t competently work to address today’s environmental problems in the Gulf of Mexico.

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