Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate:
A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week unanimously ruled that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last year.
The court agreed with the argument outlined in an amicus brief submitted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), myself and 40 of our Republican colleagues. We argued that the Constitution does not empower the president to determine when the Senate is in recess.
The court ruled that any other interpretation of the Constitution would give “the president free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction.”
The Founders established the constitutional separation of powers for a reason. The Senate’s right to provide advice and consent is an important check on the risk of this type of presidential overreach – and one we exercised last January. Yet despite of the court’s unanimous decision, the NLRB recently announced that it intends to ignore the ruling and carry on with business as usual.
from Jack Shafer:
Just as farmers plant and reap with the seasons, political journalists consult the calendar for the best time to scatter seed and harvest, with second-term inaugurations being the preferred juncture to deploy temple-tapping discussions of the "second-term curse," the notion that special doom awaits any modern president who wins the White House a second time.
Like most predictions, this one is for suckers. To begin with, the definition of a second-term curse has become so elastic that anything from a few policy setbacks to death can be interpreted as fulfillment of the curse. Even the definition of a second term has been debased by those who call vice presidents who complete a dead president's term and win one on their own — Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson — two-termers.
from The Great Debate UK:
In the welter of comment on President Obama's second term, one remarkable feature seems to have slipped under the radar. This has been a presidency blessedly free of scandal. When last did the White House remain more or less scandal-free for as long as four years? His predecessor, George W., had the average scandal quotient (Halliburton contracts, the Abramoff affair among others). Before him, there was Clinton, who seemed to clock up a scandal a week – we all remember the sex, but there was also Whitewater, which involved money, allegations of graft and ultimately suicide. Under Bush Senior and Reagan we had the Iran contra affair. As for Nixon, the less said the better. Even the saintly Jimmy Carter had a problem brother and some rather loose cannons among the pals he shipped in from Georgia to staff his administration.
What makes Obama's record all the more remarkable is that he emerged from the mire of the Chicago Democratic Party, a bye-word for corruption for decades past, and in fact the Governor of Illinois was accused of trying to "sell" the new President's abandoned senate seat only a few weeks after the election. Moreover, you can be quite sure that this administration's many enemies will have subjected its dealings to the most microscopic scrutiny in search of even the tiniest flaws, misjudgements and personal peccadilloes. It is truly amazing that they have found so few.
from Tales from the Trail:
Jimmy Carter got a big hand and roar of approval from a festive and perhaps somewhat charitable crowd on Monday at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Thirty-two years after leaving the White House as a defeated one-term president, the mostly Democratic gathering screamed approval for Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, as they arrived for the ceremony just outside the U.S. Capitol.
from Tales from the Trail:
WASHINGTON - They were treated like second-class citizens in World War Two - but overcame racial prejudice to emerge as bona fide heroes.
And on Monday, these black former "Tuskegee Airmen" were back in the front row for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
from Tales from the Trail:
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who drew fire in 2010 when he declared that his top goal was to deny President Barack Obama re-election, quickly congratulated the president on Monday as Obama began four more years in office.
Within minutes of Obama's second inaugural address, McConnell issued a written statement expressing a willingness to take a new shot at working together.
from The Great Debate:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is now in Williamsburg, Virginia, meeting with his House Republican conference at their annual retreat. The GOP House members have likely gotten over the initial shock of the November elections – in which President Barack Obama won more than 51 percent of the vote and the Democratic majority swelled in the Senate.
Though the Republicans lost House seats and their candidates collected more than a million fewer votes than their Democratic rivals, the GOP retained a majority in the House of Representatives. This consolation prize has allowed Boehner to claim that House Republicans have a mandate every bit as compelling as that earned by the president. Conservative champions Grover Norquist and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) echoed this claim.
from Nicholas Wapshott:
You might imagine the president has quite enough trouble on his hands with the looming battle with House Republicans over extending the debt ceiling without opening a second front over the appointment of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. Although a distinguished former Republican senator, Hagel has already attracted venomous opposition from his old colleagues who think, among many other complaints, he is not sound on Israel and has been too critical of American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Does the president really need more aggravation? Isn’t it a golden rule of politics not to spend your political capital all at once, as the president did in his first term when he pressed through healthcare reform to the detriment of an effective plan to reshape the wayward financial institutions? Having achieved a partial victory in the fiscal cliff negotiations by raising taxes on the super-rich, does Obama really need to take on the House and Senate at the same time?
from The Edgy Optimist:
So we did not fall off the cliff. But the reaction to the news of the deal suggests that we’ve become a culture addicted to crisis, because barely had the vote been taken when the spin from politicians, from the mainstream media, and from the cacophonous web was angry, sullen, and negative.
The problem is said to be, in no particular order: Washington, partisanship, Tea Party ideologues, tax-and-spend Democrats, unions, rich people, America, unemployment, underemployment, the shafting of the middle class, the end of the American dream, the untenable deficit, unfunded mandates, and unreasonable expectations. But maybe the problem is none of those; maybe it’s a deepening love affair with crisis. The perverse lure of descent and an inability to break out of the cycle is threatening to overcome us.
By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.
It won’t be long before Democrats will want to throw some form of economic stimulus into the discussions over righting America’s finances. Tactically, it could be a useful variable to add to the the negotiations with Republicans. Trouble is, most of them equate stimulus with waste. But there’s a way for the White House to square the circle by capitalizing on bipartisan disgust over the nation’s crumbling roads, collapsing bridges and insufficient sea walls. Call it the infrastructural upgrade card.