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A Meeting of the President and President-Elect

By Ben Pershing
The once and future kings, better known as 43 and 44, will meet at the White House this afternoon to talk transition, raising a few key questions: What advice will President Bush give Barack Obama on being leader of the free world in such trying times? Will they discuss the issue most Americans really seem to care about -- the breed of the forthcoming First Puppy? And can "Saturday Night Live" actually parody the meeting in real time, or will the show have to wait five days?

If you slept in Sunday, you may well have missed Rahm Emanuel hitting the morning shows to dole out one of the few tidbits of news that trickled out over the weekend: Obama will focus quickly on implementing the middle-class tax cut plan that seemed to serve him so well during the presidential campaign.

But before you rush out to start spending your forthcoming tax cut, note that we have no idea how quickly Obama actually intends to act on the proposal. In the first month? The first year? Emanuel also suggested that Obama wouldn't necessarily put off a tax increase on the wealthy just because of the economic downturn -- somewhere, Joe the Plumber feels vindicated -- but it's still not clear whether and how Obama will be able to pay for his plan without alienating those pesky budget hawks in his own party.

Read more Rundown at The Political Browser»

By Web Politics Editor  |  November 10, 2008; 8:14 AM ET
Categories:  43 , The Rundown , White House  
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• Retain Gates and Mukasey along with Mueller

• Lay plans to put "homeland" agencies under the wing of Defense, Justice and Treasury

Contrary to mainstream media convention wisdom, Barack Obama's most pressing task at hand is not dealing with the economic crisis.

He must first move to consolidate his power and disarm potential rogue elements within the bowels of the apparachik that may be tempted to subvert his leadership.

Major elements of the security complex no longer fall under the purview of the Department of Defense or the Justice Department. Their independence, and lack of meaningful oversight, make these entities a potential breeding ground for resistance to his ascension to the presidency.

The situation is compounded by the fact that some of these entities are privy to virtually all channels of communications and surveillance.

President-elect Obama would be wise to co-opt any potential resistance by retaining the services of Defense Secretary Gates, and, at least for the short term, Attorney General Mukasey. FBI Director Mueller's term isn't up until 2010; the retention of Gates and Mukasay, along with the continued service of Mueller, would act as a powerful deterrent to potential rogue actors who do not fall under the command of those three key security officials.

The President-elect should immediately announce the retention of these Bush administration appointees. Then he should lay plans for a Congressionally-mandated reorganization that would once again bring the agencies of the Department of Homeland Security under the direct purview and authority of existing cabinet departments -- notably, Defense, Justice and Treasury.

Such a reorganization would establish greater accountability on the part of the Homeland Security agencies, and would better facilitate meaningful Congressional oversight.

This reorganization would retire the title "Homeland Security," which is linguistically reminiscent of the rhetoric of Nazi Germany.

Gates and Mukasey, it could be argued, already have demonstrated their capability for independent decision-making that puts the good of the nation above partisan politics. By giving them a vote of confidence now, President-elect Obama would demonstrate bi-partisanship while deterring potential rogue resistance to his leadership.


Not as long as government-supported extrajudicial targeting squads are "community stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:




Posted by: scrivener50 | November 10, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Regarding these pesky tax increases, I would feel much more comfortable if they applied to the politicians in Washington D.C. in the same way that they will apply to us folks back in the real world.

I would hope that Charlie Rangel makes sure that he pays his taxes in a swift fashion and not forget to pay his taxes as he did for the last ten years.

I would hope that these tax increases apply to Senator John Kerry's 633 million dollars.

I would also hope that Senators Nelson Rockerfeller, Ted Kennedy and Kohl apply the tax increases to the trust funds that allow them to live at a level much greater than almost any one who will experience the increases that are about to occur.

They should keep in mind that we cannot afford the lawyers and accountants that find the tax loopholes, that they create, to avoid paying their fair share.

Posted by: mwhoke | November 10, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

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