Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Bipartisan

Federal budget deadlock threatens Obama family's weekend vacation; more urgent talks today

john Boehner and Harry Reid discuss their Budget talks 4-7-11

Week One of President Obama's reelection campaign is sputtering to a close and it sounds like the carburetor needs a little work.

This president likes to talk about what he likes to talk about. For the first two years of his term every poll showed Americans wanted action, not talk, on jobs and the economy. So Obama had Joe "I've Been on the Public Payroll for Generations" Biden work on the economy, while the president talked healthcare. The president got what he wanted.

But Obama's strategy didn't work out too well for dozens of loyal Democrats who saw the public pinkslip coming or got unelected. So Republicans took back the House, where financial legislation originates.

The Ivy League geniuses in Obama's circle know that American voters, as simpleminded as they are, derive their general impression of a president and an economy from two numbers: the standard but misleading unemployment rate and the price of a gallon of gasoline.

Obama promised if we mortgaged the future on that shovel-ready economic stimulus bill....

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Budget? What budget? Obama talks energy in Philadelphia before an Al Sharpton gala in New York

Obama and Al Sharpton greet the NYC banquet crowd 4-6-11

With the Friday government shutdown looming over no continuing budget agreement, President Obama was out of town again today, holding a spirited town hall meeting on energy before an admiring audience in Philadelphia. (See full transcript below.)

In his remarks the president painted a dire picture of lost services if the government shut down because some other people couldn't reach a budget agreement. And he said a government closure could affect the economic recovery that is so tardy in arriving despite all the stimulus spending.

Then the the Democrat flew up to New York City to speak to a gala banquet staged by the Rev. Al Sharpton. (See photos, and no, Al is not president yet.) During the day the president had Press Secretary Jay Carney say that the Obama administration is "encouraged" by Senate actions to "protect" the Clean Air Act. Tuesday Carney was also tasked to warn the president of Yemen about his forceful treatment of protestors, as described here.

Al Sharpton with the presidential seal warms up the New York crowd for Obama 4-6-11Carney also told reporters traveling to the banquet that the president had three-minute phone conversations with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

Carney said the president had been assured progress was being made on negotiating a continuing budget resolution to avert a federal government shutdown Friday when the latest three-week budget expires.

Halfway through the 2011 fiscal year there is no federal budget because the Democratic-controlled Congress was busy with other priorities last summer and fall. Since midterm election voters overwhelmingly turned the House over to the GOP on Nov. 2, the Republicans now have more leverage to enact their agenda of reining in Democratic spending.

Carney said this afternoon, however, that somehow the president had become convinced that not enough progress was being made and he had summoned Boehner and Reid to a White House meeting late this evening after the president's return from the awards banquet.

(UPDATE: 9:44 p.m. PT Late Wednesday night Obama said his get-together with Boehner and Reid had been productive, progress was made and staffs would continue working through the night. He again pronounced himself confident a deal was doable "if we're serious about getting something done.")

Meanwhile, the National Journal reported the hands-off president had....

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You knew O'bama was Irish, but did you know he's going there in May?

NASA's satellite view of Ireland on a cloudless day 3-17-11

President Obama's remarks at Friends of Ireland Capitol lunch, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Everyone, please have a seat. 

To Taoiseach Kenny; to his lovely wife, who has made a wonderful luncheon companion; to the vice president who is here; to our host, Speaker Boehner, for gathering us together; Ambassador Collins and Mrs. Collins; distinguished members of the House and Senate; distinguished guests from Irish, Northern Irish and British governments:

It is wonderful to be here and a great privilege. It’s my privilege to join all of you today for this wonderful St. Patrick’s Day celebration –- a day when red, white and blue has a strong hint of green. 

Taoiseach Kenny, welcome. We thank you for joining us. Your presence at this lunch virtually guarantees that any partisan clashes will be limited to who is more Irish than whom. (Laughter.)

Now, speaking of ancestry, there has been some controversy about my own background. (Laughter.) Two ...

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: 'We have to deal with a $1-billion shortfall'

Colorado Democrat governor John Hickenlooper state of the state address 1-13-11

The problem is familiar: A projected government deficit with nine 0's.

The appeal is somewhat familiar: Let both sides of the aisle work together for our mutual futures. "The only way we are going to succeed," he says in the full text below, "is if we work together."

The governor, however, is somewhat unusual.

John Hickenlooper was an unemployed geologist who set out to build and run his own brew pub, did so, then became mayor of Denver as his first political job, attracted his Democratic Party's National Convention in 2008 (remember those Greek columns at Obama's triumphant speech?), and then last November was elected governor of one of America's geographical gems. Hickenlooper's full bio is here.

He displays a kind of down-home humility and Western pragmatism that appears uncomfortable with partisanship outside a campaign. (Look at the photo above; Does he look like one of these imperial federales who strut around Washington?)

"Sustainable jobs," says the Democrat, "are created by the private sector." That's his top stated priority, helping job creation.

Hickenlooper suggests, for instance, that each new piece of legislation come with a kind of regulation impact statement, similar to an environmental impact statement, that would list what the bill's costs would be in terms of new red tape and money.

Unlike the head of his party in Washington, Hickenlooper says his goal is....

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If Obama's really running to the middle, why is the Democratic Leadership Council folding?

Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From with Hillary Clinton in 2001

After an historic shellacking like President Obama and the Democrats endured last November, losing the House in a massive membership swing unseen for decades, a familiar pattern is for the defeated party to go through the Recovery Cycle.

That's a varying period of time of reconstruction and partisan rebranding for the vanquished party to reposition itself and refresh its leadership and membership to reflect the voters' most recent verdict.

According to the latest fashion in news reports out of Washington these days, the brilliant current occupant of the White House is doing just that by deftly waltzing toward the center of the political road in preparation for the next voters' verdict on Nov. 6, 2012, when his name and some new vice president will be on his party's ticket against a pair of as yet unnamed Republicans.

The oft-cited proof of this strategic and philosophic repositioning is Obama's hiring of....

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Speaker Boehner to C-SPAN: You're kidding, right? No, you can't run your own House cameras

Speaker John Boehner vs CSPAN

Finally, some bipartisan agreement in the House of Representatives.

The new speaker of the House, John Boehner, who is a Republican, has agreed with the former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who is a Democrat. Their point of agreement: Neither one wants independent television cameras prowling their lenses all over the House sessions.

It's a transparent issue of transparency. Federal pols love to talk about it. Remember all those Barack Obama-Joe Biden promises about historic governmental transparency and how the healthcare legislative negotiations would be on C-SPAN?

Not!

In familiar fashion, Boehner has been talking a good talk about transparency since the historic Nov. 2 midterm election, when the GOP wrested majority control from....

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New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez: We 'are not under-taxed; the government has simply over-spent'

New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez gives her state of the address 1-18-11

Like fellow Republican governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, New Mexico's new governor, Susana Martinez, is her state's first female chief executive. She is also the nation's first Latina governor, as Haley is the first woman governor in the United States of Indian descent.

But Martinez is not new to public service, having been a prosecutor for nearly a quarter-century. Her full biography is here. Her husband, Chuck Franco, has also had a long career in law enforcement. See the couple's photo below greeting a little girl.

Last week with Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell's State of the State address, we heard of the strong economy in the country's largest state geographically. (For links to all of the state of the state addresses published on Top of the Ticket so far, please scroll to the bottom.)

With New Mexico, however, we return to the familiar 2011 governmental theme of deficits and the need to cut spending. Martinez hits that theme strongly, imposing several major changes from policies of her predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson.

She has ordered the state jet sold, cut expenses at the governor's residence by 55%, including letting go the two personal chefs who had been working there, cut her cabinet members' salaries by 10% and frozen all new vehicle purchases, except for law enforcement, among other stringencies.

Martinez even suggested her husband would have to do some of the cooking. (Be sure to read Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' remarks below on his state living within its means, as its citizens do.)

Martinez is also driving a theme heard from many governors, that their state is ...

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Weekly remarks: Both Republican Jeff Flake and Obama take heart in Tucson spirit and heroes

Capitol Dome

Weekly remarks by Rep. Jeff Flake, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, I’m Jeff Flake, and I represent the people of Arizona’s 6th Congressional District.

Last week's horrific attack in Tucson is a stark reminder of the senseless brutality of which some are capable; the selfless bravery with which true heroes respond; and the enduring need for leaders who will uphold their oaths and listen to their constituents.

My heart goes out to the family of my friend and colleague, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and to all those impacted by this heinous act.

Among the lost are a federal judge ... a young girl, born on September 11th ... a congressional staffer. Many....

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Ticket Replay: 'Obama assails Republican foes, urges bipartisan effort': Uh, say what?

ObamaAssailsGOPAppealsEdtd4BipartisanGrab

During the holiday season, as in years past, The Ticket is republishing some of our favorite items from the previous political year. This story was originally published on Feb. 1, 2010:

Well, this headlined Obama approach to bipartisanship should work well.

Bipartisanship to believe in. Or bipolar bipartisanship? Changing the tone in Washington and all that.

Here's the bipartisan "conversation" they're talking about in Steve Holland's Reuters story over the weekend.

Guess you can take the Chicago machine Democrat out of one-party Chicago, but you can't take....

On the plus side, Obama did say it all very well.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Screen grab from Google News: High Hat Tip to Glenn Reynolds over here.

Hawaii-bound, Obama signals his opposition to gay marriage 'evolving'

President Obama leaves for Hawaii 12-22-10

President Obama's news conference, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Good afternoon.  I know everybody is itching to get out of here and spend some time with their families.  I am, too.  I noticed some of you colleagues have been reporting from Hawaii over the last week.  But I just wanted to say a few words about the progress that we’ve made on some important issues over these last few weeks.

A lot of folks in this town predicted that after the midterm elections, Washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock.  And instead, this has been a season of progress for the American people.  That progress is reflecting -- is a reflection of the message that voters sent in November -- a message that said it’s time to find common ground on challenges facing our country.  That’s a message that I will take to heart in the New Year, and I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same.

First of all, I am glad that Democrats and Republicans came together to approve my....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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