4:30 p.m. ET: Sometimes it's not easy being a congressional liberal in the age of Obama.
After all, at least when George W. Bush was president, you could scream at the top of your lungs about something he was doing and know that your fellow Democrats generally supported what you were doing. But now that President Obama is in charge, he can submit an $83 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan war funding and you know that your complaints are probably going to fall on deaf ears. Sure, Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers can vow not to vote for the bill.
But most Democrats will back the bill, as will Republicans unless the majority lards it up with unrelated items. And the leadership certainly won't go out of its way to let antiwar lawmakers say or do anything that might embarrass Obama. For a brief moment, some Democrats may just miss Bush.
8 a.m. ET: After President Obama's much-publicized international trip and his weeks-long focus on the financial system, today brings a reminder that the administration has at least three more key items on its domestic policy plate -- housing, immigration and climate change.
Obama will host a roundtable this morning at the White House to highlight current low interest rates and exalt the joys of owning a home. As The Fix points out, there are some signs that the housing sector is making a comeback. But this is where it gets tricky, because the administration doesn't actually want a full comeback, not if it means a repeat of the overheated market that put the global economy into the toilet. In a session with the Washington Post's Lois Romano for the "Voices of Power" series, HUD chief Shaun Donovan emphasized that "not every American wants to be, nor should be, a homeowner." The administration isn't going to try to help every owner, only the "responsible" ones.
With housing and other economic issues bubbling on the front burners, is there room for immigration reform this year? Yes, White House official Cecilia Muñoz tells the New York Times. But then note the money quote from Muñoz: "He intends to start the debate this year.” And, the story adds, immigration will "not take precedence" over health care and energy in the hierarchy of issues important to the White House. Health care, in particular, will be the focus of the administration and its outside allies in the near future. So really, the answer is no, there isn't room to tackle immigration reform this year. Not in a substantive way that moves beyond speeches and "working groups." Remember, unemployment is on the rise, and "comprehensive" immigration reform never polled very well even when the economy was good.
On another key plank of Obama's economic agenda -- his "cap and trade" program for carbon emissions -- the White House has begun to signal some flexibility, possibly allowing companies to get free emission credits rather than automatically forcing all polluters to pay from the start. That compromise would be controversial with environmentalists, but might also smooth the program's passage in Congress. Republicans have been unrelenting in attacking Obama's plan as an insidious "national energy tax," and many moderate and conservative Democrats are wary of backing a scheme so disliked by the business community.
In his column this week, Thomas Friedman called on Obama to "stop hiding the ball" and just call for a straightforward carbon tax, rather than a cap and trade program that's a new tax in disguise. There's no indication that the administration will take Friedman's advice, but it is mulling the idea of "using technology to purposely cool the climate" if necessary -- really, we're not making that up. Hey, if the White House can control GM, why not the weather too?
If the White House really wants to stimulate the economy, perhaps the winners of its NCAA pool can run out to the mall to spend their winnings. Apparently David Axelrod won more than $300 in the pool. Entrants -- including Obama -- paid $10 to enter. Um, isn't betting on sports, you know, illegal? The Rundown is shocked, shocked to hear that gambling is going on at the White House. Certainly, no such activity occurs within the press corps.
Now you can get Political Browser updates on Twitter. Just head over to Postbrowser and click "follow." You'll be happy you did.
April 9, 2009; 4:28 PM ET
Go to full archive for The Rundown »
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.