Tag Archive: 111th Congress


Wit the terrible beating that the Democrats took in the 2010 election, it is time for a new group of advisors and leaders in the Obama administration. President Obama has loss some of his direction and at times it appears that he is trying to please everyone. There is a major shift in American politics and conservative thinking is the predominant mindset.

In Washington, the 112th Congress will be a divided government where the House will be controlled by the Republicans, and the Senate will barely be controlled by the Democrats. There will take a mindset of compromise and negotiation to get pass gridlock and rigid positions. Bipartisan thinking and making concession to keep things moving in Washington will take a new centrist perspective and mindset.

This week President Obama stated in an interview, “I was eager to implement reorganization in his administration, and make changes after two years on the job. I said I planned to have the personnel realignments finished in the coming days.”

President Obama is planning to recharge his administration with new faces by naming a new chief of staff and a new director of the National Economic Council for the top economic policy job in the White House. The name that is being circulated around Washington as the new chief of staff is William Daley. The name Gene Sperling is expected to be announced as the top economic advisor.

Both men worked in the Clinton administration and would signal an effort that the president is reaching out to work with a Republican-controlled House. It would also accelerate deal-making and move in the direction of the conservative movement.

As the mood of the country shifts, it is necessary that President changes his talking points to accommodate the conservative element. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary and close confidant to Obama, announced that he was stepping down next month to become an outside political adviser to the president and his re-election campaign. Gibbs said he would leave in early February. 

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, and Jim Messina, a deputy chief of staff are both leaving and moving to Chicago to establish the president’s re-election campaign. It is quite evident that the president in the next months will be organizing his campaign team for the 2012 election.

President Obama is set to shuffle his staff, and when you play musical chairs, you never know when the music will stop. One thing for certain that the president is preparing to get on board with the new realities in Washington.

He will have to change his liberal ideology and take more advice from the business community and do more listening. Raising money for the campaign next year starts now, and President Obama will be competing with a new and energized Republican Party. It will be interesting to see if the Tea Party gets stronger or if they will fade away.

Some political leaders believe if the unemployment rates decreases and the economy continues to recover, the president’s message must still resonant with more Americans. In the next two years, the president must reconnect with the fundamental problems that have created anger with “Middle Class America”.

At this point, President Obama is playing musical chairs and the music is still playing. There are many who have worked with the president for four years and they have no idea what their next assignment will be. Nevertheless, restructuring is a good thing, because people become complacent and their work suffers.

Working with the president is never a dull moment and at any time you must be willing to shift. The music is still playing and when the president is finishing with shaking up his administration, the music will stop playing.

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The leaders of the 111th session of Congress are working at a feverish pace to complete unfinished business and bills. Many of the lawmakers are well aware that they will not be back, so they are leaving their legacy: be it bad or good. The Democrats have from the beginning had an agenda and a strategy, and time is running out.

Senator Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority leader

Senator Harry Reid has threatened the Republicans that he is willing to work until December 30, and get the work completed. Many Republicans and Democrats know that is not realistic, but Reid knows that the tables will be switched in 2011. With the Republicans with more power in the Senate and a majority in the House, Reid wants major bills passed now and not later.

Reid wants to complete an approval of ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy, a “package of land, water, and wildlife” bill, the passage of the Dream Act, as well as the confirmation of several presidential nominees. It is obvious that Reid will not get all this done in the next 10 days.

Usually the main reason that the lame duck sessions are so important is to complete its work on the spending or appropriation bills that form the basis of the annual federal budget. President Obama was personally involved in this lame duck session, because if the Bush tax cuts deal was not finalized, all Americans taxes would have increased by at least $2,500.

2010 bill signing ceremony

President Obama at a bill signing ceremony

The Senate passed the Bush tax cuts on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 by a vote of 81-19, and the House approved the measure by a vote of 277-148 on Thursday, December 16, 2010. Without the president getting involved the tax cut bill, it would not have passed so rapidly.

President Obama and congressional Democrats agreed to compromise in their opposition to extending the lower tax rates to the wealthy Americans, and also agreed to a lower estate tax than had been scheduled to take effect. In return, Republicans agreed to extend unemployment benefits with payroll tax cuts and other tax breaks, which conservatives generally opposed as government stimulus measures.

Many political experts believe that this is an indicator of how President Obama will operate with a split Congress, during 112th session. Instead of change, President Obama is talking about compromise, and he is ready to make deals to initiate a bi-partisan conversation and a sharing of power.

At President Obama’s 29th bill signing ceremony for the Bush tax cut legislature, there were representatives from both parties at the event. At the signing ceremony President Obama said, “The final product proves when we can put aside the partisanship and political gains, we can get a lot done. If we can keep doing it, if we can keep that spirit, I’m hopeful that we won’t just reinvigorate this economy and restore the American dream, I’m also hopeful that we might refresh the American people’s faith in the capability of their leaders to govern in challenging times.”

Obama with Dems at bill signing ceremony

Obama signs at another 2010 bill signing ceremony

The president has acknowledged that he was not completely satisfied with the tax cut deal, but his goal was to get the work done before the deadline. It is obvious that the “to do list” for the 111th Congress will not be completed this year.
With 29 bill signing ceremonies completed, there was unprecedented work done, and the implementation of the groundbreaking legislatures will take years. But now there is a different Congressional session getting ready to start, with different representatives, and with a different set of priorities.

The work of the 111th Congress will never be completed, because one session carries to the next session and it takes months and years to get new bills operating and implemented.

Check out Roger’s other blogs on PRESIDENT OBAMA WATCH at http://www.presidentobamawatch.wordpress.com

As Congress concludes its business for the 111th session, the “Bush Tax Cuts” will determine if taxes are raised, and hundreds of thousands of people are impacted by the loss of unemployment insurance. The Republicans and President Obama have made a deal that the Obama administration can work with, and they believe it is good for the country and our depressed economy.

President Obama is aware that the new Congress will have a majority of Republicans in the House, and it will be necessary to negotiate and compromise. As a pragmatic statesman, President Obama is reaching out an olive branch to let the Republicans know that he is listening, and he is their friend.

He is aware that there are ideological and core differences in their philosophies, but the goal is to make America better for all Americans. The president is ready to make concessions to move forward the committee meetings and debates. There are going to be intense discussions on the direction the new Congress will take, and the Republicans in the House possess the votes to have their policies accepted.

Nevertheless this week in closed-door meetings, the Democrats made it clear to President Obama that they are not in support of the tax deal he made with Republicans. The words “Just say no” were the new mantra being espoused by many of the Democrats. They felt that President Obama was changing boats in the middle of the stream, and they were angry and upset.

Many Democrats believe that the wealthy are in a position to pay higher taxes to help improve the economy. If the tax cuts are extended for two years, it will cost the economy $120 billion that it will be missing in tax revenue, and over 10 years it will impact tax revenue by $800 billion.

I have no idea how the Joint Tax Committee comes up with its numbers, but it was my understanding that extending the tax cuts were only for two years. President Obama’s plan according to most economists, is supposed to boost the economy. At the end of the two years, the administration and the Congress would sit down again and make an assessment of the economy and determine what direction to take.

At this point by extending the tax cuts, the administration would increase the money supply, reduce consumer uncertainty about raising taxes, and continue keeping the consumers spending money. In order for the economy to grow, it is necessary for the consumer to spend more money, and help put more Americans back to work.

President Obama understands that in politics, there are no permanent friends and there are no permanent enemies. In order to arrive at a compromise, everyone must be willing to give up something. Everyone has a wish list, but they understand at the end of the day they will only get a portion of their demands and wishes.

The tax cuts end on December 31, 2010, and the Democrats can be stubborn and refuse to compromise, or allow the wealthiest two percent of Americans keep their tax breaks. By letting the wealthy have their tax breaks, millions of Americans will continue to have unemployment insurance, and millions of Americans will not have to worry about their taxes increasing.

The Democrats need to get on board and support the “Obama Tax Cut Deal.” The Senate Democrats are on board but the House Democrats are angry and grand-standing. Many of these Democrats will not be back in the new session of Congress, because they lost their election.

It is my hope that the House Democrats support President Obama’s Tax Cut Deal, so everyone can go home and have a wonderful and healthy holiday.

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112th Congress

The 2011 Congress stands at D.C.

 

As the 111th Congress and Senate finishes its session before it recesses for the holiday season, the Republicans are drawing a line in the sand. They have developed a strategy and agenda that is based on the philosophy of cutting spending, not raising taxes, and stopping all earmarks.

Everyone in the country is well aware that the 112th Congress and Senate session is the beginning of the conservatives taking back influential leadership positions in many major committees. The Democrats will only have the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives can stop major bills from being passed, because the two parties are on different sides of the fence.

The Republicans are determined to initiate their vision of a smaller federal bureaucracy while cutting spending, and repealing the new healthcare bill. The 42 Senators in the 111th Congress have been circulating a statement that says, “We are not- we are going to block every piece of legislation that comes our way unless it’s related to tax cuts or government spending.” The gridlock of this week may be a sign of things to come next year.

The Republicans are adamant about expanding all of Bush’s tax cuts and are refusing to give an inch on their position. This week President Obama had a summit at the White House with leaders of the Democrats and the Republicans to create a “spirit of cooperation.” This was the first time since the Democratic beating in the election that there was a bipartisan meeting.

President Obama admits that there are “real philosophical differences” between the two parties and this is why there are Democrats and Republicans. While the summit was going on, the Republican leaders were agreeing to work together, and the other members were passing around a statement to block Democratic legislation.

President Obama and his administration are well aware that this past election is the beginning of a new dialogue with the Republicans. Getting bills passed in the next session of Congress will be very difficult and diplomatic negotiations will be the key. During the 111th Congress, the Democrats had the majority in both houses and it was easy for the Democrats to railroad their agenda through without much resistance from the Republicans.

The Republicans will takeover as John Boehner becomes the Speaker of the House, and the numbers will be 242 Republicans to 192 Democrats. With this major shift in the dynamics of the House of Representatives, the Obama Administration will no longer have the numbers to get their bills passed.

The new Speaker of the House

The Republicans are now in a position to be a spoiler and create gridlock in the legislative process. In order to get anything done in Congress, the two sides will have to compromise and talk to each other.

The tax cuts are slated to conclude at the end of the year, and the Republicans want a two-year extension on all tax cuts. This is a top priority for the Republicans in the Senate, and they are holding firm on their position. This is the beginging of a stalemate in the Senate, and there is a possibility that this gridlock will continue during the 112th Congress.

OMB Budget Director Jack Lew

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

President Obama has appointed Jack Lew, the OMB Budget Director, and Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary to sit down with members of the House and Senate to find common ground and ensure middle-class Americans taxes don’t go up.

On the other hand, the Republicans want an extension on tax cuts for everyone.

The Democrats no longer have a majority in both houses and there is now a level playing field. The next couple of weeks are an indicator of the chess match that will be going on in Congress. Maybe our representatives will find some common ground and eliminate a total gridlock and stalemate.

Check out Roger’s blog at http://www.presidentobamawatch.blogspot.com