Tales from the Trail

Pelosi says Congress must create jobs, while giving up hers

As she handed over the House Speaker’s gavel to the other party, Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the shoe was now on the other foot and the new Republican-led Congress would be judged by whether it creates jobs.

USA-CONGRESS/The California Democrat, now House minority leader, probably would  like her old job back, and setting such a high performance bar for the Republicans now in charge of the House of Representatives might be one way to get it.

Lessons from the November elections are still burning — it was public anger and anxiety about the economy and job losses that partly led to Democrats losing control of the House of Representatives.

“Our most important job is to fight for American jobs …  And so Democrats will judge what comes before Congress from either side of the aisle as to whether it creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and reduces the deficit,” the first woman speaker said as she handed a huge gavel to the new speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner.

Boehner also addressed job concerns. “We gather here today at a time of great challenges.  Nearly one in ten of our neighbors are looking for work,” he said. “Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress. No longer can we fall short.  No longer can we kick the can down the road.  The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions.”

Washington Extra – Dinner party ideas

ron_paulCongress might not get much done in the next two years, but boring it won’t be. Certainly not with Ron Paul as likely head of the monetary policy (aka Fed oversight) subcommittee in the House.

Today, Paul the elder told Reuters correspondent Andy Sullivan that he was looking forward to his new “very, very important” role. The Fed, he said, was ”way too independent” and “totally out of control.” Quantitative easing – the Fed’s controversial program to purchase government securities – is not just lousy economics and lousy monetary policy, he said, it is “central economic planning at its worst.” More here.

Expect more fireworks from other conservative Republicans in the coming Congress, people who believe the Fed is enabling excessive government borrowing through its purchases of government debt, that it is printing money to finance the deficit. Then there is Darrell Issa, likely head of the oversight committee, with the subpoena power to be at least as much of a thorn in Ben Bernanke’s side than either of the Paul clan. It will be interesting to see if any of them can get under the skin of the normally unflappable Fed chairman.

Congress bracing for anti-incumbent anger among voters

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By the look of things, the American public just might vote Congress out of office this November – Republican and Democrat alike.

But Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine sounds downright stoic, even as he admits that his own party could lose more than 28 House seats and four Senate seats.

Kaine says Democrats must accept voter anger as a fact of life in an economy that is recovering only slowly from the worst recession since the 1930s.

First draft: Back on the trail again

Just three weeks into his presidency, Barack Obama heads back out on the campaign trail today. This time he’s going to a hard-hit part of Indiana where unemployment has soared, to try to build support for an $800 billion economic stimulus package.USA-OBAMA/

Obama, who excelled in the presidential campaign at ramping up support at rallies through emotional speeches, will be holding a town-hall type meeting in Elkhart, Indiana — where unemployment has jumped to 15.3 percent from 4.7 percent over the past year.

The Obama administration is focusing all its effort on getting lawmakers to approve the economic stimulus plan. In fact, yesterday the Treasury Department announced it would delay the announcement of a separate, keenly awaited bank rescue plan by a day until Tuesday so the focus could stay on the stimulus package on Monday.