I included a link to this article in my earlier post on how Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) suggested Obama use executive orders as often as possible to get around Congress, but figured it deserved its own post. The Hill’s recap of it is a bit more thorough:
President Obama told donors Sunday night that he’s not “particularly ideological.” He made the comment at one of two Democratic fundraisers he attended in Seattle.
”I’m not a particularly ideological person,” Obama said, according to the White House pool report. “There’s things, some values I feel passionately about.” Those include, he said, making sure “everybody gets a fair shake” and “everybody being treated with dignity or respect, regardless of what they look like or who they are.” [Don't you love the 'humble brag' there? Ugh. --ST]
Congress, Obama said, is the “biggest barrier and impediment” to achieving progress. He added that, without politics, there’s strong agreement on how to tackle infrastructure, immigration reform, early childhood education and investing in science and research.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) attended the event, and Obama said she’s “soon-to-be speaker again.”
“More than anything, what we’re looking for is not the defeat of another party, what we’re looking for is the advancement of ideas,” he said. “But to do that we’re going to need Nancy Pelosi as speaker because there’s a lot of work to be done right now.”
And, dammit, they can’t have the opposition “impeding” them at every turn, ya know.
At another left coast fundraiser, a heckler brought up the possibility of Obama using an executive order on the issue of immigration. Here was his response:
SAN FRANCISCO – President Obama pushed back Monday against supporters who want him to sign more executive orders to overcome opposition to his policies from Republicans in Congress.
After a man repeatedly shouted “executive order” during Obama’s speech at a fundraiser here Monday afternoon, the president said there is “no short-cut to democracy” and that he could not sign executive orders to bypass Congress.
“A lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is just, ‘Sign an executive order and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress,’ ” Obama said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco.
Many in the audience of more than 400 supporters began applauding. “Wait, wait, wait,” Obama said. “Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no short-cut to politics, and there’s no short-cut to democracy.”
That’s a very nice defense of separation of powers, but don’t get too relieved. This President – and many high profile power brokers in his administration are very good at paying lip service to the Constitution, but the reality is another matter entirely …
**Posted by Phineas
We knew Edie Sundby wouldn’t be the only one. In Virginia Beach, grandmother and kidney-cancer sufferer Debra Fishericks was happy with the coverage she has, but the federal government wasn’t. Guess who won?
“We were happy,” says the business owner. “We had great insurance. We had continuing care for our employees.”
Says the owner, “Great–until owner Betsy Atkinson learned the policy would be terminated because it doesn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.”
Great work there, Democrats. Your genius plan is not only making healthcare worse in this country, but it’s going to get people killed.
(h/t The Weekly Standard)
RELATED: From my beloved Golden State, read how one family is having to scrimp and save every penny, because Obamacare is wreaking havoc on their finances. At least they’re not having to consider bankruptcy because of the ACA. Yet. Meanwhile, Covered CA (the state Obamacare exchange) teamed with SEIU and the California Endowment to hold a sign-up party in Sacramento, probably because not enough of the young and healthy are volunteering to be fodder for the ACA vampire. Of the roughly 1,500 people who showed up for the one-day event, ten completed applications, while less than 50 others had even started one.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
The Observer’s Politicker reports on a recent interview Congressman Rangel did with NY1 in which he expressed support for President Obama going around Congress via the use of executive orders “for everything”:
Congressman Charlie Rangel has a solution for bypassing gridlock in Washington D.C.: executive orders for “everything.”
In an interview last night with NY1, the congressman praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to push through the so-called “nuclear option” to end filibusters on most presidential nominees. But he lamented the fact the work-around could not be used for legislation, suggesting the president turn to the executive orders–like the kind used to end the deportation many people who’d entered the country illegally as children.
“You know, the DREAM Act for the kids that came over here and didn’t know their home town, the president did that by executive order. What I did is I’ve taken out the language that he used and I’m gonna see why we can’t use executive orders for everything. What’s he gonna do? Make the Republicans angry? They’re gonna get annoyed? They’re not gonna cooperate?”
He went on to slam the Republican Party for refusing to cooperate–accusing them of acting against the interests of their own constituents.
“A police officer once told me when I was a kid that the worst criminal to deal with is one that doesn’t mind dying,” he said. “And if you take a look at what these Tea Party people have done–recognizing that there’s more sick and poor white folks then there is–but they still are resisting everything that the president wants to do so they can destroy the people in their district in terms of education and jobs, the Congress, the Republican name. And when we had the debt ceiling crisis, they were really prepared to let the United States of America fiscal policy to go in the tubes. How can you talk with people like this?”
And just last week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) proposed expanding the use of the nuclear option to beyond just the filibuster on judicial nominees by way of, ya know, actual legislation.
How DARE Republicans disagree with Democrats and President Obama on how best to turn around the economic crisis our country faces – a crisis that has actually gotten WORSE under their watch? Shame on the GOP for accurately predicting exactly what problems Obamacare would cause. It was just pure luck they got it right. There can’t possibly be any genuine philosophical differences for disagreement with liberals. Why, conservatives and Republicans just want to “destroy” people. Oh, and raaaaaaaaaacism!
It’s always illuminating when the ‘moderate’ masks of Democrats come off, isn’t it? Their true fascistic faces are revealed in all their ugliness for the country – and the world – to see. It’s disturbing to watch but necessary. It’s good to know who – and what – you’re really up against.
The Panthers (7-3) have traveled this weekend to Miami (5-5) for their next match-up and are riding high after their 24-20 Monday night win over the visiting New England Patriots. The Cats are on a 6 game win streak and hope to make it 7 today as they play a Dolphins team mired in a bullying scandal. Miami beat San Diego last week 20-16.
Game time is 1 pm ET and it will be broadcast locally on Fox.
**Posted by Phineas
Because The Future! Or something:
The latest accounting by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to state lawmakers indicates that the agency has spent almost $600 million on engineering and environmental consultants — all without turning a shovelful of dirt on construction.
In the twice-a-year report (PDF) sent to legislative leaders on Friday, the agency is sticking to its estimated price tag of $68.3 billion to build its San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bullet-train line. The agency earlier this year approved a $987 million contract with a team of contractors to design and build the first 29-mile stretch of the line from Madera through Fresno.
But while contractors Tutor Perini Corp., Zachry Construction and Parsons Corp. have been given a green light for engineering and other pre-construction activities, the authority has offered no estimate of when ground may be broken .
If the name “Tutor-Perini” rings a bell, you’re not just hearing things. Tutor-Perini’s principle owner is Richard Blum. Blum has been mentioned before in this blog, and there have been allegations in the past of cronyism in the winning of government contracts by companies he’s involved with. By sheer coincidence, Blum is also the husband of Senator Diane Feinstein.
But, back to the more than half-a-billion, this is money that has been spent before construction has even begun on the initial Fresno to Madera segment. The Fresno Bee article describes what we’ve gotten for our money, so far:
“The authority has made significant progress in its mission to plan, design, build and operate the nation’s first high-speed rail system as part of the statewide rail modernization program,” agency CEO Jeff Morales wrote in the report.
The report details a raft of administrative advances, including filling all of its executive management positions, developing a risk-management plan, issuing a report on greenhouse-gas emissions, and awarding the construction contracts for the Madera-Fresno stretch.
(I hope those executives got some nice chairs for that $600 million.)
There is still an environmental report –Yay! More consulting fees!– for the area around Chowchilla to be done, which is why this state version of a shovel-ready project hasn’t started. Already they’re two years behind schedule.
And the whole ball of wax (with attendant fees) has to be done for at least six other segments from San Francisco to Anaheim. Luckily, the High-Speed Rail Authority is allowed to spend up to $980 million on pre-construction “consulting contracts” through 2018. No way they’ll come asking for more public money (1). Nope. Nuh-uh.
I can’t wait to see what the costs come to once they actually start building this boondoggle.
Nice legacy ya got there, Governor.
(1) Funded by either public borrowing or higher taxes, of course.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
**Posted by Phineas
It’s not just the “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” lie or the forthcoming “access shock” that Democrats have to worry about as we approach the 2014 midterm elections. At the Washington Examiner, Byron York describes three more promises the president and his party made about Obamacare that could easily come back to bite them. Here’s one:
1) Obamacare will save your family $2,500 a year.
During the 2008 campaign, and as president, Obama promised his health plan would “cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year.” But Obama and fellow Democrats knew that many premiums would actually go up. Obamacare provides taxpayer-paid subsidies to millions of Americans with which to pay the higher prices, but those without subsidies will have to deal with the problem themselves.
In any event, the savings aren’t happening, and the administration has abandoned the $2,500 claim. Obama avoided repeating it when Mitt Romney threw it at him during the 2012 presidential debates. And at a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointedly did not use the figure, even when Republican lawmakers pressed her about it.
“I didn’t say they’re going down,” Sebelius said of health care premiums. “I said the rates are lower than was predicted. And for millions of people in the market, they will actually, for the first time ever, have some financial help paying for their health insurance.”
So the promise of $2,500 savings has become a reality of rising premiums, with subsidies for some. It’s a broken promise that could prove politically toxic for the administration.
I imagine there are quite a few people who would like to remind Secretary Sebelius of her boss’ exact words.
The other two are –and try not to laugh– Obamacare as a job-creating bill (1) and a guarantee that it won’t harm those who are already insured (2).
I’m willing to bet there’s a growing number of incumbent Democrats who are considering retirement much more seriously these days.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Via The Hill:
After the Senate voted to change filibuster rules Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called for more reforms.
“This has been escalating for a long period of time and it was time to stop it and that’s what we did this morning,” Harkin said. “Now we need to take it a step farther and change the filibuster rules on legislation.”
Fifty-two Democratic senators voted to limit the minority party’s right to filibuster executive branch and judicial nominees. Under the old rules, 60 votes were necessary to end debate on nominees, but Democrats changed the rules to require a simple majority.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was prompted to use the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules with a simple majority after Republicans blocked three of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court.
The nuclear option — which gets its name from the damage done to bipartisan relationships — allows a simple-majority to change the Senate rules rather than the usual super majority.
Republicans accused Democrats of being shortsighted by “breaking the rules to change the rules.”
“This is a blatant power grab,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said. “This is about the other side not getting everything they want when they want it.”
Harkin said it was a “good day” for the Senate and called for more reforms.
Move along here, no naked power grabs to see …
**Posted by Phineas
This morning the petty little tyrant also known as Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) did what he has longed to do and finally changed the rules of the Senate to weaken filibusters, the so-called “nuclear option:”
In a move that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) called “the most important and most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pushed the button on the long-threatened “nuclear option” today to require a simple majority to move forward President Obama’s judicial nominees.
There were three Democratic defectors — Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — on the rules change, which came to the floor over the block of three judges intended for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The rule change only affects court appointments below the level of the Supreme Court and also doesn’t limit filibusters against legislation. Yet. Obama hinted at attacking the legislative filibuster, and you can bet the filibuster against Supreme Court nominees will be similarly brushed aside, should an opening arise between now and the next Inauguration Day.
Many senators and outside observers (including yours truly) commented this morning that this could well come back to bite the Democrats in the behind, once the Republicans take control of the Senate, which could come as early as next year, given their crumbling political position thanks to Obamacare. It seems at first and even second glance to be a shortsighted move, an act of petulance done in spite against one’s own interests.
I think, however, there is a deeper motive.
Reid, for all his faults, is not a stupid man. Or, at least, he’s a skilled politician who can see which way the electoral winds are blowing. He remembers 2010, when anger over the passage of Obamacare cost the Democrats the House and almost lost them the Senate.
But now people are even angrier, now that Obamacare has kicked in. And it’s only going to get worse for the Democrats, as the web site doesn’t get fixed, the “access shock” kicks in, rates go up even further, and millions who thought their employer-based coverage was safe find out otherwise starting in fall, 2014, just before the elections… See where this is going?
Harry Reid knows the Senate is lost. He’s read the entrails for his party’s fortunes and seen in the not too distant future a Republican House, Senate, and (quite possibly) White House. With the loss of legislative power this entails, Reid has laid the groundwork to do the one thing he can do to protect the progressive agenda in 2017 and beyond: pack the courts with progressive judges.
Court packing was the scheme through which FDR hoped to load up a conservative Supreme Court that had been blocking key New Deal measures with liberal justices who would swing decisions his way. While the plan per se failed, it had the intended effect: the Court was intimidated and, through retirement and changed minds, started to vote FDR’s way.
Reid has the same thing in mind. I would not be surprised at all to see Obama appoint a bunch of appellate and district judges, in order to have them place when Republican measures undoing Obamacare and other progressive legislation are challenged in court. Long after Reid and his majority are gone, these progressive judges would be in place to rule with “empathy” and “fairness” and find new rights in the Constitution that no one else has ever seen there.
But what about the Supreme Court? Wouldn’t they smack down errant lower courts?
You’d better hope Scalia, Thomas, and the other Center-Right justices stay healthy, otherwise this same maneuver will be used to give us, for example, Cass Sunstein, who is a fan of FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights,” or California Justice Goodwin Liu (Be afraid, be very afraid).
Court Packing II, coming your way in 2014.
RELATED: At Twitchy, a video festival of Democrats claiming that limiting the filibuster would be a disaster — back when George W. Bush was president. How times change.
UPDATE: At NRO’s Bench Memos, Curt Levey sees some real bad news in this development –
The immediate impact will be to turn the D.C. Circuit — often the only check on a president’s executive power — into a rubber stamp for Obama’s unilateral rewriting of statutes, his questionable executive orders, his overreaching agency regulations, and his other Nixonian abuses of executive authority.
Over a somewhat longer term, my concern is that the moderating force that was exerted on Obama’s judicial nominations by the filibuster threat is gone. As a result, expect to see more nominations of radicals like Goodwin Liu and a faster remaking of the entire federal judiciary.
Read the rest for some hopeful news.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)