There a lot of grousing about Obama today. Ezra Klein
, John Cole
of Balloon Juice (and his commenters), even Kevin Drum
is not particularly hopeful.
While Obama has been criticized in the past for not doing enough, his supporters could argue that passing new legislation meant dealing with the 60-vote Senate, along with other procedural hurdles. I never found those arguments convincing, but it was often a subjective call as to whether or not Obama was doing as well as expected (or promised).
But the tax cut extension is a different matter. If there is no action, the taxes go back to the 2000 rates. And Obama holds the veto pen. So he can play hardball and demand only a bill to his liking. Play it out and see what happens.
It looks as if that isn't going to take plce. You can think of a number of explanations why. But the key result will be that Obama will lose a ton of support from Democrats if he treats the tax extension like the other legislation: As if both sides have the same bargaining power.
Watch what happens this month. It will be of greater significance than almost anything else that's happened so far.
UPDATE: Here's an interesting observation
by a commenter at Balloon Juice:
Obama is a strict Constitutionalist and he understands what the original intent of the Republic was in having the three branches. He wants to pull power back from the executive and put more into the hands of the legislative, i.e., less rule by fiat than we have seen in almost 200 years. He doesn’t believe in the bully pulpit, he believes the president’s job is to do what the legislative tells him to do. He wants to lead the executive branch, not the nation.
It’s a sweet notion that was relevant at the signing but went out the window soon after the ink dried. He doesn’t get it.
He may be right in believing, accepting my premise, that a less powerful executive is better for democracy but he fails to realize that times have changed.
Not sure I buy it, but it's an intriguing notion.
That comment is pure BS. I post comments over there and read the comments often. There are lots of O-bots, and one of their favorite excuses is "Only Congress can legislate!!1!"
There's no evidence from Obama's presidency taken as a whole that he defers to Congress. He just doesn't want to lead on issues that would require taking a firm stance.
I totally agree about the President being CEO of the Executive but not the nation.
Congress is in Article I of the Constitution and it is its job to tell the president how they want the country run.
It is a pretty good system.
FDR was able to get his way because a lot of New Dealers were elected along with him in 1932 and 36.
Ike was limited to what he could do by the Democratic Congress, JFK was rather stymied by its conservatism, and LBJ only barely got his agenda through, partially thanks to buying off the conservatives with an aggressive intervention in SE Asia.
Reagan had to get all his damage through Congress, which he did largely thanks to the Boll Weevils.
Similarly, Clinton after '95 was largely a caretaker president.