A Washington Scheduling Conflict is Not the Most Important Story Ever
One of the things I like to do with what I think of as my “long form” posts is kill two or more birds with one stone. It’s often the case that when you look closely at an issue or story of the day, it relates to other stories and other issues. So many things are interconnected and politics (as much as politicians like to pretend otherwise) is a complex and faceted thing. It’s nearly always the case that you can grab a story and make it at least two stories; “Man, this is dumb — and the media sucks!” And yes, media suckage figures into this particular post.
So let’s begin with that. Yesterday, President Obama announced that he wanted to address a joint session of congress on September 7. This wasn’t going to work, there was a big Republican debate that night and we can’t have the president dominating that news cycle. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner didn’t put his refusal that way, but no one on Earth believes there was any other reason. The President pushed his case, but later dropped it. He’d address congress on the 8th.
OK, now here’s where we get to the “and the media sucks!” part; this is the big story today. A scheduling disagreement. Yes, the GOP looks petty and self-serving. “Remember, this is just about picking the date for the speech. It’s like arguing about the shape of the table before sitting down for negotiations. What possible chance is there for Washington to approve meaningful economic legislation if there’s a dramatic showdown over scheduling?” writes Steve Benen. “That’s a rhetorical question; the chances are zero.” But the bigger story — that President Obama is going to unveil a major jobs plan — is lost in the coverage of this minor palace intrigue.
Worse, it turns out we have a good idea what’s in the plan the President will outline and media’s ignoring this knowledge.
President Obama is either fed up with Congress or he’s testing his own administration’s mettle. Or both.
On Wednesday, Obama took a now-familiar path in adopting a program — this time a jobs and infrastructure effort — that can happen entirely within his domain. Obama directed several federal agencies to identify “high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects” that can be expedited now, without congressional approval.
One week before he will make a major address to Congress on jobs, Obama is making sure they know he plans to move forward without them. The president has also directed the Education Department to come up with a “Plan B” updating the 2001 No Child Left Behind law in the absence of congressional action. The message to Congress is clear: Do your work or we’ll do it for you.
That’s right, we know the president plans to stand before congress and give them the middle finger with both hands, but the big story is that this middle-finger-giving had to be rescheduled. Barack Obama is finally telling congress, “lead, follow, or get out of the way,” but the earth-shatteringly important story — as far as the media is concerned — involves day-planners.
No doubt, the president will call on congress to do more, but it’s clear that things will move forward with or without them. Which, of course, almost certainly means without them. We’ll hear a lot from the GOP about how Obama is going off on another round of reckless new spending, but — from everything I’m seeing — this would merely be an expedited distribution of existing funds (i.e., it’s not new spending, it’s a rejiggering of agencies’ budgets). Republican complaints will be what they always are; reactionary BS. So expect the media to climb on board with that.
Meanwhile, Republicans’ big plan to create jobs involves tax cuts — which have been failing for a decade — and repealing regulations. Most of these regulations were in place during the Clinton administration, which means they were operational during the longest economic expansion of the 20th century. Clearly, these regulations aren’t extremely burdensome and they’re not the reason people are out of work. This isn’t about creating jobs, this is about an opportunistic attack on things Republicans don’t like while pretending to do something about jobs. And, if the legislation passes and then fails to dent unemployment — and fail it unquestionably would — then that’ll be Obama’s fault, because everything is Obama’s fault.
Man, this is dumb — and the media sucks.
John Boehner (Almost) Creates One Job
Republicans have their eye on jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. You know this because they keep saying it. Which is good, because if they didn’t keep saying it, you’d never know. Apparently, creating jobs comes after firing everyone at NPR and Planned Parenthood on the big list of GOP priorities. And beginning to privatize Medicare in 2012. So 2013, I guess, after the elections. That’s when Republicans plan to work on getting people jobs.
One person who won’t have to wait to get a new job is a former Bushie, who Speaker Boehner thinks employing right now is the most important thing ever.
Earlier today, Speaker John Boehner’s (R) office announced that American taxpayers would pay former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Clement, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, is widely viewed as one of nation’s leading appellate attorneys. He is also one of the most expensive…
Clement is on track to make $5 million a year, the report tells us, so this guy’s not going to come cheap. But congratulations Speaker Boehner, you’re now on track to create one job. That is, if we’re generous. The guy already has a job, but you’re still throwing work his way.
See, back in February, President Obama announced that his administration wouldn’t defend the Defense Of Marriage Act — which bars the federal government from recognizing same sex unions — because he believed the law was unconstitutional. Republicans, who’d been making a lot of noise about states’ rights and the Tenth Amendment, decided this was the worst thing ever. Apparently, Republicans feel the same way about states’ right as they do about all their other of their basic, core beliefs — they’re for them until they’re not. State governments can bust up unions and deny their citizens healthcare, they can outlaw abortion and decree that brown people show their papers on demand, but if two men or two women want to get married, then states’ rights go out the window — who needs them? Apparently, states only have the right to oppress their citizens. If state governments start expanding freedom and recognizing new rights… Well, clearly something must be done.
And Boehner, being newly concerned about deficit spending, has a plan to both pay for this big-money lawyer and punish the administration for recognizing the Tenth Amendment.
Speaker John Boehner asked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s for her support to cut funds for the Department of Justice and use them to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
In a letter sent to Pelosi (D-Calif.) Monday, Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote that the funds Justice would have used to protect the law should be used by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to protect the act.
"The burden of defending DOMA, and the resulting costs associated with any litigation that would have otherwise been born by DoJ, has fallen to the House," Boehner wrote. "Obviously, DoJ’s decision results in DoJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA. It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DoJ, defending DOMA."
Justice won’t be defending DOMA, because that’s a waste of time, which means they won’t need the money for other things which aren’t a waste of time — like, you know, fighting terrorism and stuff. Can you imagine how the right would’ve reacted to Pelosi wanting to cut funding for the DoJ under Bush? “Siding with terrorists!” would’ve been the phrase of the month.
And is Boehner defending the will of the people, who don’t want same sex couples marrying their sweethearts? Not if you ask the people. The last poll on the issue — taken almost a month ago to the day — found that a clear majority (53%) supports marriage equality, while only 44% oppose. This is a trend toward marriage equality that’s been going on for some time. It’s not going to turn around. So Speaker Boehner wants to cut funding from federal law enforcement to pay for a big-money lawyer, who’ll then defend a law that most people don’t want.
At least he can say he created a job with a straight face. Well, almost anyway…