The [Tuesday] Papers
"President Barack Obama will lay out a strategy for getting around a divided Congress and boosting middle-class prosperity on Tuesday in a State of the Union speech that reflects some scaled-back legislative ambitions after a difficult year," the Tribune reports.
"Obama will make clear in his 8 p.m. CST address that he is willing to bypass U.S. lawmakers and go it alone in some areas by announcing a series of executive actions that do not require congressional approval."
Gee, that sounds familiar.
"One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism," the New York Times reported in 2012.
"'We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,' recalled William M. Daley, who was the White House chief of staff at the time. 'The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.'
"For Mr. Obama, that meeting was a turning point. As a senator and presidential candidate, he had criticized George W. Bush for flouting the role of Congress. And during his first two years in the White House, when Democrats controlled Congress, Mr. Obama largely worked through the legislative process to achieve his domestic policy goals.
"But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts 'We Can't Wait,' a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies - on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more."
Huh. That "We Can't Wait" link goes to this quote from Obama:
"Without a doubt, the most urgent challenge that we face right now is getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs . . . we can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won't act, I will."
- President Barack Obama, October 24, 2011
And sure enough:
"For President Obama, it was something akin to a public policy hat trick," USA Today reported in 2011.
"During a three-day Western trip that ended Wednesday, Obama announced initiatives that could help 1.6 million college students repay their federal loans, 1 million homeowners meet their mortgage payments, and 8,000 veterans find jobs.
The Democratic president did this with nary a negotiation with congressional Republicans. Like many of his predecessors in the White House, he got past Congress the old-fashioned way: He spurned it.
"'We can't wait for Congress to do its job. So where they won't act, I will,' Obama told students at the University of Colorado-Denver. 'We're going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.'"
But wait, there's more!
"With newly-empowered Republicans poised to bring gridlock to Congress, a powerhouse liberal think tank has some advice for President Obama: 'Go around,'" CNN reported in 2010.
"'The public wants progress, not positioning,' said John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who now heads CAP. If Obama can't find partners in the new congressional regime, Podesta said the president should turn to executive orders, rulemaking, agency management, and his command of the armed forces to start implementing changes."
Obama recently hired Podesta, who brought with him a "plan to bypass Congress on climate change," according to the Washington Post.
That's not new either.
"If Congress won't get the job done on climate change, President Obama has a way to do it himself. But is he strong-arming the legislative branch?" CNN asked in 2009.
"It certainly looks that way as a series of new environmental regulations, released over the past two weeks by the EPA, are putting legislators on notice and executives on edge."
"President Barack Obama is planning to bypass congressional Republicans with a surge of executive actions and orders on issues like voting rights, health care, job creation, the economy, climate change and immigration," Politico reported last year.
"And this time, he really, really, really means it. Really.
"Obama's started to sell his pitch to congressional Democrats, meeting with caucus groups at the White House and going to the Hill on Wednesday morning to speak with House and Senate Democrats.
"'I have to figure out what I can do outside of Congress through executive actions,' Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus earlier this month, according to Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.).
"'He's very ready to use his executive powers whenever possible,' said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) who heard Obama discuss the new approach at a meeting of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus to the White House last week."
Hardly a new approach, then. Just an old threat that dates back to the very first year of his presidency - when Democrats ruled both houses of Congress.
Perhaps it's time to stop blaming Republicans for Obama's sad-sack presidency. After all, he's been going around Congress for years.
It's not just the story the Tribune cobbled together from wire services that set the table for this report; Obama's threat to go around Congress has been the main media meme all the way around in the run-up to the State of the Union speech - just like every year, it turns out.
NSA The Chicago Way
Does that make you feel any better? Because it scares the shit out me. At least pick someone from Minnesota or Vermont.
Actually, the dude is from Winnetka.
Went to New Trier.
Yup, that's an Obama pick.
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Posted on January 28, 2014
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