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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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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)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Obama's Latest Pivot: "Obama Is Fresh Out Of Ideas"

Today in Washington, D.C. - June 24, 2013
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 1243, the Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill.

At 3:40pm, there will be a moment of silence for Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson of the U.S. Capitol police, who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.

At a time to be determined, the Senate will take up the House-passed student loan bill, H.R. 1911, and the Burr-Manchin substitute amendment that includes the language of a bipartisan deal that was finally brokered over the complaints of many Senate Democrats. The Senate will first vote on two amendments to the Burr-Manchin amendment from Democrats offering far-left plans on loans that not even the White House supports. The first amendment will be offered by Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The Second will be offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Both will require 60 votes for approval.

Following those votes, the Senate will vote on approval of the Burr-Manchin substitute, which will also be a 60 vote threshold, and then passage of H.R. 1911, as amended.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 73-26 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to (i.e. to cut off debate and begin consideration of) S. 1243. Also yesterday, the Senate voted 99-1 to adopt an amendment to the bill from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that prohibits felons from receiving housing benefits.

The House convened at 10 AM and moved forward with debates and votes on amendments to H.R. 2397 — "Appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes.

Yesterday the House began discussions on H.R. 2397 and passed the following amendments to the bill:
Walberg (R-MI) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 1 - Increases funding for the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response by $10 million and reduces funding to the Operations and Maintenance, Defense-Wide account by $11 million.
Delaney (D-MD) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 2 - Increases Fisher House Account by $16 million, decreases Operation and Maintenance Account Defense-Wide by $25 million; Difference in values maintains outlay neutrality.
Grayson (D-FL) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 4 - Increases the Defense Health Program Account by $10 million to specifically target finding a cure for Gulf War Illness which directly affects over one-fourth of veterans from the first Gulf War.
Israel (D-NY), King (R-NY) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 5 - Increases by $10 million the Defense Human Resources Activity account for the purpose of enhancing DOD efforts in mental health research, treatment, education, and outreach and reduces the same amount from the Office of the Secretary of Defense account.
En Bloc 1 (Voice Vote) – Nos. 6, 32, 76 – 82.
Jackson Lee (D-TX) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 9 - Increases funding for Defense Health Program account (intended for PTSD) by $500,000 offset by a similar reduction in the Environment Restoration, Army account.
Jackson Lee (D-TX) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 13 - Increases the Defense Health Program's Research and Development account by $10 million and reduces the Defense Procurement-Wide account by the same amount.
En Bloc 2 (Voice Vote) – Nos. 83, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96
Heck (R-NV) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 18 - Transfers $15,000,000 to Defense-Wide RDTE for producing the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense program in the United States, including for infrastructure, tooling, transferring data, special test equipment, and related components.
Shea Porter (D-NH), LoBiondo (R-NJ) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 21 - Designates funding to study the Therapeutic Service Dog Training Program, which was directed in House Report 113-102 accompanying the FY14 NDAA.
Walberg (R-MI), Cohen (D-TN), Esty (D-CT), Rigell (R-VA) (283-139) - Amendment No. 27 - Reduces the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund by $79 million and transfer the savings to the Spending Reduction Account.
En Bloc 3 (Voice Vote) – Nos. 31, 68, 85
Scalise (R-LA) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 37 - Prohibits the Department of Defense from entering into any new contracts for the procurement or production of non-petroleum based fuels for use as the same purpose or as a drop-in substitute for petroleum.
Cole (R-OK), Kilmer (D-WA), McCarthy (R-CA), Bishop (R-UT), Jones (R-NC), Loebsack (D-IA), McCollum (D-MN), Austin Scott (R-GA) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 42 - Provides that none of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to implement a furlough of Department of Defense federal employees who are paid from the Working Capital Fund (WCF) Account, which is a revolving fund and does not receive direct funding from Congressional appropriations to finance its operations.
Cohen (D-TN) (249-173) - Amendment No. 29 - Reduces the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund from $279 million to $140 million and transfers the savings to deficit reduction.
Coffman (R-CO), Garamendi (D-CA), Murphy (D-FL), Cohen (D-TN)(346-79) - Amendment No. 30 - Decreases the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund by $553.8M (contract to Rosoboronexport for 30 Mi-17 helicopters) and increases the Spending Reduction Account by the same amount.
Fleming (R-LA), Bridenstine (R-OK), Forbes (R-VA), Jordan (R-OH), Pitts (R-PA), Lankford (R-OK)(253-173) - Amendment No. 35 - Prevents funds from being used to appoint chaplains without an endorsing agency
Rigell (R-VA) (332-94) - Amendment No. 36 - Prohibits funds in the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund from being used to commence new projects.
Flores (R-TX), Gingrey (R-GA), Conaway (R-TX), Hensarling (R-TX) (237-189) - Amendment No. 41 - Prohibits any funds from being used to enforce the selective fuel bans set forth in Sec. 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which expands options for the federal government to purchase fuels by from unconventional sources like California heavy oil resources or Canadian oil sands.
DeLauro (D-CT), Moran (D-VA), Wolf (D-VA), McGovern (D-MA), Bridenstine (R-OK), Connolly (D-VA), Garamendi (D-CA), Cohen (D-TN) (333-93) - Amendment No. 44 - Prohibits funds to train the Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW) to operate or maintain Mi-17 helicopters manufactured by Russia’s state arms dealer that the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reports the SMW does not have the capacity to use.
Kline (R-MN), Polis (D-CO), Paulsen (R-MN) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 50 - Prohibits funds to carry out recent DOD recruitment policies in contravention of congressional intent in the Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA and to ensure all students are given the same opportunities to enlist in the armed forces.
Lamborn (R-CO), Lummis (R-WY), Daines (R-MT), Cramer, Kevin (R-ND) (Voice Vote) - Amendment No. 52 (Voice Vote)- Prohibits the use of funds to conduct an environmental impact study on ICBMs.
Lamborn (R-CO), O'Rourke (D-TX), Barrow (D-GA), Jenkins (R-KS) (Voice Vote) – Amendment No. 53 -Prohibits the use of funds to implement sequestration-related furloughs of civilian Department of Defense employees.
Meadows (R-NC) – Amendment No. 54 (Voice Vote) - Prohibits the use of funds for payment of salaries to recess appointees until the appointee is formally confirmed by the Senate.
Palazzo (R-MS) (Voice Vote) – Amendment No. 56 - Prevents any funds from being used to rebase any Air Force, Air Guard, or Air Force Reserve aircraft until 60 days after the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force has submitted its report as required by the FY 2013 NDAA.
Palazzo (R-MS), Nugent (R-FL) (Voice Vote) – Amendment No. 57 - Prevents any funds from being used to plan for or carryout furloughs of Dual Status Military Technicians.
Rogers, Mike (R-AL) (Voice Vote) – Amendment No. ? - Provides that none of the funds made available by this act may be used to carry out reductions to the nuclear forces of the United States to implement the New START Treaty.
Turner (R-OH), Rogers, Mike (R-AL) (Voice Vote) – Amendment No. 61 - Prevents funds from being used to reduce strategic delivery systems and ensures that the President is in compliance with the Arms Control and Disarmament Act.

Reaction to President's "Pending" Speech - Expect worse comments after the speech:
ABC News writes, “President Obama will once again try to refocus the public’s attention and the political debate on the economy on Wednesday, delivering what’s being billed as a major economic address in his home state of Illinois. The White House is trying to drum up support for the speech, but it’s a tough sell, given how often the president has launched similar campaigns in recent years. Republican critics claim the president has publicly pivoted back to the economy numerous times, but to little avail.”

Of course, it’s not just Republicans who are unimpressed with this latest “pivot.” Many in the press are yawning as well. Earlier this week, NBC’s Chuck Todd said “it’s like déjà pivot I have when it comes to the economy.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank thought it was “roughly the 10th time the White House has made such a pivot to refocus on jobs and growth.” The liberal Milbank expressed his disinterest: “[E]ven a reincarnated Steve Jobs would have trouble marketing this turkey: How can the president make news, and remake the agenda, by delivering the same message he gave in 2005? He’s even giving the speech from the same place, Galesburg, Ill. . . . White House officials say this will show Obama’s consistency. . . . Yes, but this also risks sending the signal that, just six months into his second term, Obama is fresh out of ideas. There’s little hope of getting Congress to act on major initiatives and little appetite in the White House to fight for bold new legislation that is likely to fail. And so the president, it seems, is going into reruns.”

The Wall Street Journal noted another angle. “In the latest [WSJ/NBC News] poll, Mr. Obama's job-approval rating fell to 45%, its lowest level since late 2011 . . . . Just 29% of Americans now say the country is on the right track, a 19-month low and well below the 41% who felt that way at the end of last year, the poll found. . . . The president made a similar pivot when his approval ratings dropped in 2011 . . . .”

After the speech, reactions weren’t much better. Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post writes, “You could be forgiven if you thought you had heard President Obama’s speech on the economy today before. Because you have. For most of the 2012 campaign. . . . And, it seems incredibly unlikely that this speech, which Obama gave some version of for virtually the entirety of his 2012 campaign, will change any GOP minds.” And National Journal dashed off a piece headlined, “In Big Economic Speech, Obama Says a Bunch of Stuff That Probably Won't Happen.”

Speaking about President Obama’s rhetorical rerun on the Senate floor today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “With all the buildup, you’d think the President was unveiling the next Bond film or something, but in all likelihood it will be more like a midday rerun of some 70s B movie. Because we’ve heard it all before. It’s old. These speeches are just so formulaic. And they’re usually more notable for what they leave out than what they contain.

“Here’s what I mean. We all know the President will bemoan the state of the economy in his speech, but he won’t take responsibility for it. He’ll criticize Republicans for not rubber-stamping his policies, but will leave out the fact that for two years Democrats did just that, and yet the economic recovery is still stagnant. He won’t talk about the fact that, since he lost control of the House and his ability to just have things his way, he’s refused to engage with seemingly anyone in Congress on ways to get the economy moving.

“A perfect illustration of that is the fact that instead of working with us on solutions, he’s out giving speeches. And here’s the kicker: instead of taking responsibility for his failure to lead, he’ll probably try and cast this as some titanic struggle between those who believe in quote-unquote ‘investing’ in the country, and those who supposedly want to eliminate paved roads, or stop signs, or whatever ridiculous straw man he invents this time.

“Give me a break. There is a real philosophical debate going on in our country, but it’s not anything like how he imagines it. I’d say it’s more of a debate between those who believe in a government that’s smarter and more efficient, and some who just seem to believe in government, against all the evidence, between those who draw the obvious lessons from human tragedies in places like Greece and Detroit, and some who just can’t face up to the logical endpoints of their own ideology – who can’t accept the terrible pain their own ideas inevitably inflict on the weakest in society.”

And unfortunately, the reality shares something with the rhetoric: it hasn’t changed much, either. According to The Washington Post, “[A]nyone who thinks that the short-run [economic] battle is over should take a look at a new report by Daniel Alpert over at the Century Foundation. Alpert notes that while the headline unemployment number is well below its recession-era peak, that’s almost 100 percent due to declines in the labor force participation rate — that is, the share of the population that’s either employed or actively looking for work. . . . The share of adults who are working isn’t going up; it’s stagnating. More people aren’t working. . . . The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in November 2007 — before the recession hit — that labor force participation would decline by 0.3 points between 2007 and 2012. The actual fall was 2.4 points, a decline eight times that. . . . Obama may be thinking about the long-run, but the near-term economic picture is still very, very bleak.”

Tags: Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriation, National Defense appropriations, President Obama, Pivot Speech 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 2:38 PM - Post Link

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