Archive for the ‘House’ Category

Power struggle may open rift among House Democrats

November 7, 2008

Opening a split among congressional Democrats that could affect President-elect Barack Obama’s efforts to curb global warming, a California environmentalist is trying to wrest control of a crucial House committee from its chairman, who is the automobile industry’s strongest ally in fighting stricter antipollution standards.

By Janet Hook
The Los Angeles Times

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) has announced that he wants to replace Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will take the lead on Obama’s signature issues of energy, global warming and healthcare.

Henry Waxman
Above: Henry Waxman

Over the years, Dingell has given invaluable support to the auto companies’ fights against pollution and fuel economy standards that they considered unrealistic, and Waxman’s challenge to his leadership is the culmination of a decades-long rivalry between the two powerful lawmakers, the panel’s top two Democrats.

The outcome of the fight could affect whether action on Obama’s energy agenda will be tilted toward the interests of Rust Belt industrial Democrats or more aggressive antipollution efforts that California has spearheaded.

It opens divisions among triumphant Democrats just as they come off a landmark election that put Obama in the White House and expanded the party’s majorities in the House and Senate — and it is a window into how power struggles among Democrats may intensify now that there is so much more power to wield.

Dingell allies say Waxman’s unexpected move is divisive and will sow dissent just as the party should be rallying together.

“There is no basis for removing Chairman Dingell,” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said in a conference call with Dingell supporters. “The implication that Mr. Dingell wouldn’t move environmental legislation as quickly as Mr. Waxman has no basis in reality.”

In a letter Thursday to all House Democrats, Dingell said he was better prepared to move the Obama agenda and insisted that he was committed to addressing the climate change problem.

“An Obama presidency will allow us to quickly complete our work and protect the environment,” he wrote.

The Obama transition team has not weighed in on the dispute, but the person managing congressional relations for the team is Phil Schiliro, a former longtime Waxman aide. Global warming is a thorny issue for Obama because there are high expectations for him to address the problem. At the same time, Obama carried Michigan and must be concerned about the survival of the U.S. auto industry.

Dingell, who in the Democratic primaries endorsed the presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, represents a district near Detroit, and the loss of his position would be seen as a blow to the auto industry at a particularly trying time. Detroit is being battered by declining car sales, high gas prices and an economy in turmoil. In a sign of the political sensitivity of the fight, several auto industry spokesmen declined to comment on the choice between Dingell and Waxman.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is officially neutral in the dispute, but she is known to be sympathetic to Waxman’s positions on the environment and has repeatedly crossed swords with Dingell over the years:

* In 2002, Pelosi endorsed an unsuccessful primary challenger to Dingell.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about economic stimulus plans ...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 5, 2008.(Mitch Dumke/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-
energy7-2008nov07,0,1179722.story

For Republicans: Could Have Been Worse

November 5, 2008

If Republicans are searching — Reagan-style — for the pony in the pile of manure, perhaps they can find it in this: The double-whammy wipeout many of them were expecting didn’t materialize on Election Night.
Yes, Barack Obama crushed John McCain in the presidential race. But Democrats seem destined to fall well short of the filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority they wanted in the Senate, and Republicans have won a slew of House races they were braced to lose. 

Jim VandeHei, Tim Grieve, Politico

While never quite predicting it, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chief Charles Schumer of New York said late last month that 60 was “possible.” In the House, Democratic operatives and leadership types had their hopes set on a 30-seat pickup and thought they might get to 40 if everything broke their way.

It didn’t.

The Senate road to 60 was supposed to run through Alaska, but the morning after found Republican Sen. Ted Stevens holding onto a slim lead over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich — despite the fact that Stevens was convicted last week on seven federal felony counts.

Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman worried that his vote on the $700 billion bailout would cost him the election, but it hasn’t, yet; he claimed victory over Al Franken, but the margin was so small that a recount is mandated under state law. In Oregon, Gordon Smith — the quintessential endangered moderate Republican — may yet lose his seat, but he’s leading at the moment. Roger Wicker dodged the wave in Mississippi; Saxby Chambliss looks like a survivor in Georgia; and Mitch McConnell is not Tom Daschle.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election ... 
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election night rally in Phoenix Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Looking on at right is wife Cindy McCain.(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

On the House side, Alaska Rep. Don Young — left for dead by just about everyone, including his governor, Sarah Palin — somehow managed to win reelection. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) saw roughly a million dollars pour into her opponent’s campaign after she went McCarthy on Chris Matthews and urged the news media to investigate whether members of Congress were “pro-American”; she won anyway. Seemingly vulnerable Republican Reps. Lee Terry of Nebraska, John Shadegg of Arizona and Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida all won new terms in Congress.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/15318

We Could Be In for a Lurch to the Left

November 4, 2008

There’s an old saying that politics in America is played between the 40 yard lines. What this means, for those unfamiliar with football, is that we’re a centrist country, never straying very far to the left or the right in elections or national policies. This has been true for decades. It probably won’t be after today’s election.

For the first time since the 1960s, liberal Democrats are dominant. They are all but certain to have a lopsided majority in the House, and either a filibuster-proof Senate or something close to it. If Barack Obama wins the presidency today, they’ll have an ideological ally in the White House.

A sharp lurch to the left and enactment of a liberal agenda, or major parts of it, are all but inevitable. The centrist limits in earlier eras of Democratic control are gone. In the short run, Democrats may be constrained by the weak economy and a large budget deficit. Tax hikes and massive spending programs, except those billed as job creation, may have to be delayed.

By Fred Barnes
The Wall Street Journal
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But much of their agenda — the “card check” proposal to end secret ballots in union elections, the Fairness Doctrine to stifle conservative talk radio, liberal judicial nominees, trade restrictions, retreat from Iraq, talks with Iran — doesn’t require spending. And after 14 years of Republican control of Congress, the presidency, or both, Democrats are impatient. They want to move quickly.

Democrats had large majorities when Jimmy Carter became president in 1977 (61-38 in the Senate, 292-143 in the House) and when Bill Clinton took office in 1993 (56-44, 258-176). So why are their prospects for legislative success so much better now?

The most significant change is in the ideological makeup of the Democratic majorities. In the Carter and Clinton eras, there were dozens of moderate and conservative Democrats in Congress, a disproportionate number of them committee chairs. Now the Democratic majorities in both houses are composed almost uniformly of liberals. Those few who aren’t, including the tiny but heralded gang of moderates elected to the House in 2006, usually knuckle under on liberal issues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bosses them around like hired help.

In the past, senior Democrats intervened to prevent a liberal onslaught. Along with Republicans, they stopped President Carter from implementing his plan to pull American troops out of South Korea.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122576065024095511.html

Obama: ‘I Will Change The World’

November 2, 2008

With just three days to go he and his opponent John McCain are touring key states in an effort to woo undecided voters.

Senator Obama is still almost seven points ahead in the Real Clear Politics poll of polls, but the gap has narrowed slightly.

Don’t miss these other great pre-election treats:
Is The Maverick a Closer, or a Loser? Is Obama the Messiah? Tuesday We’ll Know!

Obama Says Election ‘Vindicated’ His Faith in America

From Sky News (UK)

At a rally in Henderson, Nevada, he warned his supporters against complacency.

“At this defining moment in history, you can give the country the change we need,” he said.

Sky News’ Michelle Clifford, who was at the rally, said Mr Obama was trying to leave nothing to chance.

“He’ll be using every ounce of his resources to get the vote out,” she said.

At the same time Senator McCain was rallying his followers in Newport Beach, Virginia.

In a usually safe Republican state, which is threatening to go to the Democrats, he asked for help on the home stretch.

He said: “Let me state the obvious again, we need to win Virginia on the 4th of November and with your help we’re going to win and bring real change to Washington.

The campaigning has been tough for both men, but Sky News’ Robert Nisbet, who has been following the McCain bandwagon, says the toll is beginning to show on the older man.

“Being on the road at rally after rally is exhausting and Mr McCain appears to be tired,” he said.

Obama, McCain promise respect for Congress

November 2, 2008

Voters for the first time in almost five decades on Tuesday will send a sitting member of Congress to the White House, with Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain both promising to thaw the prickly relationship between the two branches of government.

But congressional experience is no guarantee the next president will have a cozy time with his former colleagues, as both candidates would likely face obstacles on Capitol Hill that could slow or sidetrack their political agendas.

By Sean Lengell
The Washington Times
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“With Obama, he was not in the Senate very long, and John McCain is not very well-liked in the Senate, so [their congressional experience] might cut the other way,” said Gene Healy, a vice president at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute and author of the 2008 book “The Cult of the Presidency.”

“I don’t know how much we can read into whether legislative experience at the federal level is going to lead to greater comity” between Capitol Hill and the White House.

With Democrats expected to make significant gains to their House and Senate majorities, a Democratic Obama administration would have a clear mandate to press ahead with his priorities, such as an expansion of government-subsidized health care, other spending programs, and a mix of tax increases and middle-class tax cuts.
Capitol Building Full View.jpg

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/02/obama-mccain-promise-respect-for-congress/

McCain vows to fight for new direction for nation

October 13, 2008

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Republican John McCain pledged to fight for a new direction for the country in an energetic new campaign stump speech Monday that sought to distance him from the economic policies of President Bush. “We cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: waiting for our luck to change,” McCain said while campaigning with running mate Sarah Palin in this once reliably Republican state that has become a battleground this year.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ... 
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., give the thumbs-up as he speaks at a rally at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, Oct. 13, 2008.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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“The hour is late; our troubles are getting worse; our enemies watch. We have to act immediately. We have to change direction now.”

The Arizona senator insisted he understood Americans’ concerns about the deepening financial crisis, even as fears about the meltdown have moved voters firmly in Democrat Barack Obama’s direction in recent weeks.

The repudiation of the Republican incumbent’s economic policies came as McCain has struggled to find a message that would reverse his sagging poll results nationally and in some battleground states. Yet, McCain echoed a line from President George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, about Democrats “measuring the drapes” that proved ineffectual for the GOP in 1992 and 2006.

Sen. Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and Sen. (Harry) Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq,” McCain said, targeting the prospect of one-party government with references to the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081013/ap_on_el_pr/
mccain;_ylt=Anter1ob47PUiognLPwJCEas0NUE

All that money you’ve lost — where did it go?

October 11, 2008

By ERIC CARVIN, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – Trillions in stock market value — gone. Trillions in retirement savings — gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you’re saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll — gone, gone, gone.

Whether you’re a stock broker or Joe Six-pack, if you have a 401(k), a mutual fund or a college savings plan, tumbling stock markets and sagging home prices mean you’ve lost a whole lot of the money that was right there on your account statements just a few months ago.

A money changer counts out US dollars at a currency exchange ... 

But if you no longer have that money, who does? The fat cats on Wall Street? Some oil baron in Saudi Arabia? The government of China?

Or is it just — gone?

If you’re looking to track down your missing money — figure out who has it now, maybe ask to have it back — you might be disappointed to learn that is was never really money in the first place.

Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale, puts it bluntly: The notion that you lose a pile of money whenever the stock market tanks is a “fallacy.” He says the price of a stock has never been the same thing as money — it’s simply the “best guess” of what the stock is worth.

“It’s in people’s minds,” Shiller explains. “We’re just recording a measure of what people think the stock market is worth. What the people who are willing to trade today — who are very, very few people — are actually trading at. So we’re just extrapolating that and thinking, well, maybe that’s what everyone thinks it’s worth.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081011/ap_on_bi_ge/where_s_
the_money;_ylt=AkKucZ8sq3OvinoJZ3KzHyms0NUE

Passers-by stop to view a screen displaying markets news, with ...
Passers-by stop to view a screen displaying markets news, with Moscow’s Micex index displayed, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, Paris. Regulators in Russia ordered Moscow’s MICEX not to open for regular trading at the usual time, and the opening of the RTS was also postponed until further notice, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency said.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Who Has Most Important Vote on Financial Issue? McCain.

September 24, 2008

Republicans want to know how he’ll vote.  Democrats want to know how he’ll vote.  And the man that has been speaking about putting the country first is in a spot:  How will he vote?

As the U.S. Congress works to approve, disapprove and modify the Treasury and Fed proposal, really the Bush proposal, to limit the damage in the financial crisis, which some have called a “Financial 9/11,” all are looking to one man to see how he’ll vote.

John McCain.

If the Democratic controlled congress revises the Executive Department’s fiscal plan, and brings it to a vote, two thing can happen: either the Republicans get behind it to produce a bipartisan solution or the Republicans, headed by presidential candidate John McCain, vote against it and then criticize the Democrats all the way to the Novemebr election.

Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leadery, calls that last idea of two month of Republican criticism unacceptable and demagoguery.  He wants to know now how McCain will vote.

Reid said yesterday, “This is a Republican proposal, and we need some Republican votes,” to help it pass. “At this stage we [Democrats] are working with ourselves.”

“We now need Republicans to stand up,” Reid said. “We need the Republican nominee for president to say what he’s for,” said Harry Reid.

The world waits….

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to reporters ... 
Harry Reid: “This is a Republican proposal, and we need some Republican votes,” to help it pass. “At this stage we [Democrats] are working with ourselves….. We now need Republicans to stand up. We need the Republican nominee for president to say what he’s for.” REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Shoppers ‘too little, too late’ to save season

December 22, 2007

The Associated Press & Peace and Freedom

At the outset of this holiday shopping season, we wrote about the perils retailers faced between “Black Friday” and Christmas even in the best of times.  With fuel prices on the rise and the housing crisis still putting the brakes on house and home construction and sales; this year seemed to offer even more risks.  Now, despite the upbead proclimations of President Bush, it is appearing that this will be a black year for retailers across the nation.

With less than three days left until Christmas, the nation’s retailers are in a lather to attract last-minute shoppers to salvage what has been a mediocre December.

Department-store operator Macy’s Inc. has slashed prices on everything from clothing to jewelry, while Toys “R” Us is offering price cuts of up to 75 percent this weekend. At stake are retailers’ profits for the year and perhaps even the strength of the economy.

While consumers jammed stores at the start of the season for big discounts and shopped early for Nintendo Co.’s hard-to-find Wii game console, popular video games like “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” and Australian sheepskin UGG boots, they waited until the end for most everything else, to take advantage of the best deals amid a challenging economy.

The biggest disappointment comes from women’s apparel, extending a downturn that’s grown deeper in recent months and serving as an ominous sign for the health of retailing in general. Women do the primary shopping for the family, so analysts say it’s troubling that they are spending less time in the stores.

“I have no money or time to shop,” said Tina Morabito, who just started her holiday shopping on Friday morning at the Providence Mall, in Providence, R.I. She was buying some greeting cards and mint chocolates, but didn’t plan to buy clothing.

“There’s been a malaise” among women’s clothing sales and “it has spread to other areas,” said Dan Hess, chief executive of Merchant Forecast, a New York-based research firm. “The panic button has been pushed, particularly in department stores.”

And even with an expected sales surge this weekend, which traditionally accounts for about 10 percent of holiday sales, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater expects that the last-minute spending will be “too little, too late” to save Christmas.

Related:
U.S. Economy: Storm Warning

Wall Street is betting on a recession

Economy: More people sign up for jobless benefits

Support Wanes in House for Genocide Vote

October 17, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 — Worried about antagonizing Turkish leaders, House members from both parties have begun to withdraw their support from a resolution backed by the Democratic leadership that would condemn as genocide the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago.

Almost a dozen lawmakers had shifted against the measure in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday night, accelerating a sudden exodus that has cast deep doubt over the measure’s prospects. Some made clear that they were heeding warnings from the White House, which has called the measure dangerously provocative, and from the Turkish government, which has said House passage would prompt Turkey to reconsider its ties to the United States, including logistical support for the Iraq war.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/
2007/10/17/washington/17cong.html?_r=
1&hp&oref=slogin