Tales from the Trail

Budget and bipartisanship don’t mix on Valentine’s Day

Where’s the love?

Despite all the (whining?) and dining at the White House in the hopes of  bipartisanship and civility, Republicans got out the trash-talk for  President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.

USA-BUDGET /Since Republicans control the House, and Democrats the Senate and White House, bipartisan action will be needed if any progress is to be made. Congressional Correspondent Richard Cowan takes a look at how the budget process works here.

Obama released a $3.7 trillion proposal as the first salvo in the annual budget wars. Republicans immediately marched out their disapproval.

Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: “The president’s budget accelerates our country down the path to bankruptcy.”

Senator Jeff Sessions, senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee: “Today he submitted a budget to Congress that accelerates our dangerous trajectory. His budget increases spending every single year, eventually doubling the size of  the entire government from what it was the day he took office.”

Washington Extra – Whose bipartisanship?

The feeling appeared mutual when President Barack Obama shook hands with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell after signing the tax cut bill. It looked like the picture of what Obama called a “bipartisan effort.”  OBAMA/TAXES-SIGNS

McConnell tried not to grin too much over the Republicans winning the war in their efforts to extend tax cuts to the wealthy.

But when it came to Capitol Hill Democrats, there wasn’t much display of unity with even Obama, let alone bipartisanship with the Republicans. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were no-shows at the bill signing.

Can Obama launch “peace talks” with Republicans at Camp David?

Camp David may be getting ready for another round of peace talks – of the domestic variety.

President Barack Obama is emphasizing bipartisanship after the midterm election shellacking dealt by Republicans and today decided to wave a olive branch — the possibility of a summit wiith congressional leaders early next year at the presidential retreat. OBAMA/
    
He offered the invite at a White House meeting with leaders of both parties where they discussed tax cuts, the START treaty, and other issues Obama wants to see resolved during the remainder of the “lame duck” session of Congress.

An invitation to Camp David is considered an honor. In fact, Obama said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid mentioned to him that despite 28 years in Congress, he had never been to Camp David.

In House, bipartisanship is in eye of the beholder

A top Democrat is fed up with House Republican Leader John Boehner citing their work together years ago as an example of Boehner’s commitment to bipartisanship.

Representative George Miller says Boehner — in line to become House speaker if Republicans win the chamber in the Nov. 2 election — is long-time partisan and everyone should know it.

“The fact is, the only bipartisan moment Representative Boehner can point to is working with me nine years ago” on an education bill that Republican President George W. Bush “had made a priority,” Miller said. “Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance to America’s middle class.” BUSH TAXES

Washington Extra – Two to tango

One of the more surreal experiences at the Reuters Washington Summit this week was hearing Republicans saying they are prepared to work with President Barack Obama over the next two years and then listing their priorities – which started with undoing and repealing almost everything he has done in the past two.

republicansToday, at the Tart Lumber Company in Virginia, John Boehner unveiled the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” – a glossy 45-page booklet meant to set out their agenda for government. “Republicans have heard the American people,” said Boehner, the party’s leader in the House of Representatives.

As expected, there were howls of derision from the left. Many conservative commentators rallied behind the proposals to cut spending, lower taxes and balance the budget, but not everyone is happy. In his column, Reuters Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis argued that Republicans had missed the chance to make the case for the kind of serious fiscal reform the United States desperately needs.

Washington Extra – Gridlock and the fiscal deficit

summit

The term gridlock may have first entered the vocabulary during the 1980 New York transit strike, reportedly coined by “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, chief traffic engineer in the city’s transport department.  In those days it was definitely not something to aspire to. It is a different story in 2010.

“Gridlock’s not all bad,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told the Reuters Washington Summit today, citing the need to “slow things down” politically.  His fellow Senator and Tea Party champion Jim DeMint would probably go even further.

But is that really what lies in store after the midterm elections?

Republican and Democratic speakers on the first day of the summit agreed on one thing above all else: that the other party is to blame for the lack of bipartisanship in Washington.

All smiles at the White House, for a moment anyway

Earlier today President Barack Obama signed a law about prison sentences for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine and the photograph of the smiling group of people who supported the legislation gave us a brief pause.

The Democrats and Republicans gathered around the president in the Oval Office rarely agree on anything.  Let’s take a minute to dissect this photograph.

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There’s Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured second from the left), a close confidante of Obama’s. But he has drawn intense criticism for his plan to prosecute the five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in a criminal court in the heart of Manhattan (now highly unlikely). He also has been lambasted by Republicans for affording full legal rights to terrorism suspects who have been arrested on U.S. soil.

Latest Washington technique? Bipartisanship by sniping?

If bipartisanship is what they’re after … they’ve got a funny way of showing it.

Financial regulation reform is the latest struggle on Capitol Hill between the forces of Democrats and Republicans. And while everyone seems to be calling for bipartisanship, the words they’re using are quite simply snippy.

President Barack Obama had congressional leaders from both parties over to the White House today to chat about his goal of  financial regulatory reform to prevent another markets meltdown. USA/

Bipartisanship: can words be put into action in election year?

The president wants it. The public wants it.

But when it comes to bipartisanship, words are easier than action — especially in an election year. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama, who met with congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday, called for bipartisan solutions to some of  the weighty issues of the day: job creation and deficit reduction.

“As I said in my State of the Union, part of what we’d like to see is the ability of Congress to move forward in a more bipartisan fashion on some of the key challenges that the country is facing right now,” Obama said before the meeting.