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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Today in Washington D. C. - July 22, 2009

The Senate resumed consideration of the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390. The bill would authorize $679.8 billion in military funding. The Senate vote (58-41) on an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to cut $1.75 billion for F-22 procurement. this action was supported by the Pentagon but certain members of congress like Jack Murtha wanted to continue the aircraft. Note, the F-22 has not been used in combat and the military favors the development of another fighter aircraft. Tomorrow, the House Appropriations Committee holds a vote on whether to follow the Senate's lead and cut the F-22.

Yesterday the Senate voted 92-0 to adopt an amendment from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to make it a federal crime to knowingly assault a member of the US armed forces because of his military member status.

The Obama administration is making interesting choices on which items to leave out of its agenda this week and which to leave in. Out apparently, are key progress reports on commitments the White House has made, since they will all almost certainly show that the reality does not live up to the administration’s rhetoric in these areas. However, President Obama has made sure to pencil in time for yet more rhetoric on health care.

The New York Times reports today, “An Obama administration panel will miss a Tuesday deadline to report on its efforts to meet President Obama’s directive to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by January, administration officials said on Monday.” Apparently the task force will need six more months to figure out what to do with the dangerous detainees housed at Guantanamo. The Washington Post points out, “Some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees may be deemed too dangerous to release but also too difficult to prosecute in federal court or before a military commission.” According to The Post, a White House official explained to reporters, “These are hard, complicated, consequential decisions.” Indeed they are, which one would have hoped President Obama would have spend more time considering before hastily announcing in January that the facility would be closed within a year. The Post goes on to note, “In separate interviews, some administration officials have said they fear the closing date could slide.” It sounds like a progress report on closing Guantanamo would not show much progress.

The Obama administration is missing another self-imposed deadline Monday, on cabinet members coming up with a very symbolic $100 million in savings. Though the announcement of this goal was made with much fanfare in April, CNN writes, “The deadline came -- and went -- without a report from the White House on whether or not that promise was fulfilled.” So has President Obama’s cabinet proven unable to come up with a relatively paltry $100 million in savings (out of a $3.9 trillion budget)? Or are they simply embarrassed about the amount, which, as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted at the time, is “about the average amount we'll spend every single day just covering the interest on the stimulus package that we passed earlier this year”?

The Washington Post reported yesterday, “The Obama administration is delaying release of a congressionally mandated report on the nation's economic conditions, spawning speculation that it is trying to tamp down bad economic news to avoid further complicating the already fraught legislative debate over health care reform. The report, which is normally published by late July, is being delayed by several weeks, the administration acknowledged on Monday.”

So what has the White House made sure to get done this week? Another primetime press conference, likely focused around the President Obama’s push for government-run health care. The administration is certainly fond of soaring rhetoric on health care reform, just like on closing Guantanamo and controlling spending, but reality appears to be intruding on Obama’s vision there, just as in other areas. Politico reports on a new poll today that finds, “Nearly half of respondents — 44% — believe government-managed coverage will increase the price of health care.” Politico also points out, “Asked what effect a government-managed health care coverage option would have on access to health services, 40% said it would make the situation worse, 38% said it would make it better and 22% said it would remain the same. Asked what its effect would be on the quality of health care, 42% said it would make health care worse, 33% said it would make it better and 25% said it would not have an effect.”

During the campaign, President Obama and Democrats sold themselves as stewards who would return good, smart government to America. However, it looks more like they’ve gotten caught up in selling their ideas than in seriously dealing with the realities they face in implementing them. They’d apparently prefer to delay or ignore progress reports that might reflect badly on their agenda, but there’s always time for another conspicuous press conference.

Tags: F-22, military, 2010, Defense authorization bill, US Congress, US House, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 2:41 PM - Post Link


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