Category: harry reid


U.S. Senate leadership

On the evening of July 31, 2011, the Senate and The House of Representatives have reached a tentative agreement. Ending a perilous stalemate, President Obama announced an agreement on Sunday night on a compromise that would avoid the nation’s first-ever financial default. The deal would cut more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade.

This agreement is tentative and the Congress must ratify the deal with a vote. No votes were expected in either house of Congress until Monday, to give rank and file lawmakers time to review the package. The framework of the deal would give the President a debt ceiling increase of up to $2.4 trillion, and guarantee an equal amount of deficit reduction over the next 10 years.

“Default would have had a devastating effect on our economy,” Obama said at the White House, relaying the news to the American people and financial market around the world. He thanked both the leaders of each party.  

After a tough week of meetings and negotiations, the House of Representatives, Senate leadership, and the president are able to feel good about their accomplishment. According to Democrats and Republican sources, here are the key elements of the deal. There is still work to be done and the leaders of both parties are rounding up votes for the deal.

The debt ceiling increase tentatively would be around $2.1 trillion and the spending cuts would be equal to increase over 10 years. The formation of a special Congressional committee to recommend further deficit reductions that may take the form of spending cuts or tax increases. The special committee must make recommendations by late November, before the Thanksgiving recess.

Congress must also approve those cuts by December 23, or automotive cuts across the board go into effect, including cuts to federal defense programs and Medicare. This trigger is designed to force action on the deficit reduction committee’s recommendations to both Democrats and Republicans. There would also be a vote in both houses on a balanced budget amendment.

As the Congress gets down to the 11th hour, the two houses are close to a deal. During President Bush’s eight years the debt limit was raised 19 times, without the fuss and fight of this Congress. When Bush took office the debt limit was $5.95 trillion, and when he left it was $9.81 trillion.

Top Aide to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett

President Obama has been deeply involved in trying to win a debt deal that both parties find agreeable and can work with. “He’s getting absolutely no sleep. He’s working tirelessly, meeting with his economic team, doing a lot of outreach, exploring all kinds of possibilities for compromise,” top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett told Reuters Insider. This has translated into even longer days than normal at the White House, which already begins with a senior staff meeting at 7:30 am in the morning.

It appears that all the hard work has paid off for President Obama, and his administration. It is still too early to relax, but all the leaders are announcing that a deal has been struck. Democrats won’t like the fact that Medicare could be exposed to automatic cuts, but the sizes of the Medicare cuts are limited. They are designed to be taken from Medicare providers, and not beneficiaries.

Finally, the House of Representatives and the Senate are starting to compromise, and do what is best for the citizens of the country. Somehow President Obama must make bipartisan a reality in Washington, and get the two parties to cooperate, and work together. Making decisions together that improve and enhance the country is the job of our representatives.   

Senate Leader Harry Reid

In Washington, there is political theatrics controlling the Congress, and every politician wants to be on the news. Everyone is playing games and they know that they are not doing their job. The President ran on a platform of change and the expectation level in the country was incredible.

America was ready for fundamental changes in Washington, and President Obama initially was a politician that progressive citizens could believe. He started his term with a majority of Democrats in the Senate and the Congress, and he got passed over 60 bills. He was able to get the Healthcare Reform Bill passed that other presidents had tried but failed.

President Obama’s polls approval rating initially was in the high sixties into low seventies. Minority communities’ approval rating for the president was in the nineties. But as the euphoric honeymoon began to dissipate into reality, we found many of the problems with the Obama administration were the same as other administrations.

The political fights between the Republicans and the Democrats were the same, but in President Obama’s administration they were a little meaner and nastier. With the emergence of the Tea Party, a new ideology was initiated that wanted a smaller federal government and were extremely conservative.

President Obama and the Democratic Party underestimated the influence and the political clout of

Tea Party

 the power of the Tea party movement. It is a loosely organized nationalized movement, which is the mobilized radical arm of the Republican Party. They are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going and they are angry.

With the country $14 trillion in debt, and every state treasury in debt, the Tea Party is correct when they say the Congress needs to balance its books and control spending. The problem with the Tea Party is they want to go backward as opposed to forward. Much of their ideology is based on state’s rights, American supremacy, and the good old-boy’s system.

Nevertheless, without a doubt the Tea Party members are a major impediment, and they make it harder to get the federal budget passed. They are a divisive force, and with the election of 2010, the new 85 Republican House members are connected to the Tea Party.

But all the blame for not getting the 2010 budget passed can be blamed on the Republicans and the Tea Party. When the Democrats had a majority in both Houses, they still could not get the budget passed. Somewhere there appears to be a problem with leadership, or planning in the party. If the Speaker of the House and the leader of the Senate are both Democrats, they should be able to agree on a budget, and get it passed.

This week the government shutdown was averted with a late night deal right before the deadline. Even though the shutdown was avoided this fight was over peanuts, because the debate over the 2011 budget will soon start. With a divided Congress, who doesn’t like each other, there will probably be a major fight within the parties, and against each party.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House and Harry Reid, Senator Leader met President Obama four times in one week to finally come up with a deal. John Boehner says, “The president is not leading. He didn’t lead on last year’s budget, and he clearly is not leading on this year’s budget.”

President Obama meets with his aides

At times President Obama is not engaged and he leaves certain projects and initiatives in the hands of his administrators. It appears the president’s strategy is to remain behind the scenes and let his aides do the negotiating. No longer can the president let his aides do the negotiating.

The president must be engaged from the very beginning and be the leader of his team. Our government needs the president to get vocal, get serious, and demand results.             

At the present time, the 2011 budget has not been signed by the president, because both Houses cannot agree on spending cuts and what to fund. As a result, our government is operating on a continuing resolution that comes to an end on March 4, 2011.

Speaking at an event

Dick Morris, political author and commentator

Many conservatives in the country believe that in order to get President Obama’s attention that the Republicans should force a shutdown over health care funding. The ultra-conservative Republicans want the size of government reduced and they are wiling to try different tactics to make this a reality. “There’s going to be a government shutdown, just like in 1995 and 1996, but we’re going to win it this time,” said Dick Morris at the American for Prosperity Foundation Conference.

Conservatives have taken the position that the deficits and recession are a result of Democratic policies and they are holding the Obama administration as the culprits. The conservative Republicans believe that they have a mandate from the American people to stop spending money and slash government spending by tens of billions of dollars.

Recently, the Republicans in the House voted to cut $61 billion in federal spending this year from the budget. This is setting up for a budget confrontation, between the Democrat-controlled Senate over the 2011 budget. Senate Democrats have made it clear that they are not willing to accept the $61 billion cuts that the Republican House has proposed.

“Read my lips: We’re going to cut spending,” House Speaker John Boehner, told reporters

Speaker of the House

 last week when announcing he won’t accept a short-term extension without some spending reductions. It appears that the House Republicans are drawing a line in the sand and they are refusing to budge.

As the Congress gets closer to the March 4, 2011 deadline, the two sides will have to make concessions if they plan to keep the government running. If the government was to shutdown, it would halt military pay, veterans’ benefits, Social Security checks, and government functions such as food-safety inspections. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has introduced a temporary spending measure to keep government agencies running through March 31, and buy time for talks.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi

Many political experts and pundits expected in the 112th Congress that there would be gridlock with the new conservative Republicans elected in the mid-term elections. These Republicans want to eliminate 100 social programs and cut funding for 100 more. The cuts would impact programs in education, environment, health care, energy, science, the Peace Corps, and the Social Security Administration.

The Obama administration has not responded or established their position on the cuts. It is very early in the debate over the cuts, but leaks from the White House are the cuts could hurt the recovering economy. Many also believe that the cuts are too much too soon and they could cause a lost of jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is urging Republicans to negotiate a compromise. “Now that House Republicans have gotten this vote out of their system, I hope they will drop the threats of shutting down the government and work with the Senate on responsible cuts that allow our nation’s economic recovery to continue,” said Reid.

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader

This issue is not going away, because everyone is passionate about their philosophy and mindset. There is validity in both side’s positions, and everyone is pointing a finger at each other. Collaboration and compromise is the way to come to an agreement, but very few are willing to give in.

The government shutdown is possible if both sides refuse to budge. Nobody wins and millions will be hurt in the process if the government shuts down.