President Obama is just about halfway into his 100 days in office, and detractors are bellowing that he hasn’t fixed an economy approaching its nadir, a Middle East crisis on the verge of greater turmoil and unplugged the impasse on the credit flow. They want Obama to be a miracle worker, to halt the plunging exports, increase the overseas investments, hike the commodity prices, and make the credit lines reappear like he was some sort of Houdini.
It is problematic enough to have irate Republicans such as Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele and toxic radio commentator Rush Limbaugh snipping at your heels and cavorting like the Three Stooges they are, but now the president has to cool things in his own ranks as powerful House and Senate leaders are poised to derail his budget plans. Jindal proved he’s not ready for prime time last month during his rebuttal to Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress. Even members of his own party felt he was oratorically challenged.
“Laughable,” “amateurish” and “a missed opportunity” were a few of the barbs from his colleagues.
As for Steele, his aborted shouting match with Limbaugh ended with his apology for calling the commentator: “ugly,” “incendiary” and “an entertainer.” Since Steele was in the mood for apologizing, he could have extended it to his sister, Dr. Monica Turner, for being so tardy in the controversial payment for catering one of his events.
Taken together, the face of the Republican Party needs cosmetic, not comedic, relief, and they may want to consider a warmed-over version of Sarah Palin, who couldn’t be any worse.
The slapstick routine of Jindal, Steele and Limbaugh, who has the audacity to want to debate Obama, is nothing more than fatuous burlesque compared to the mounting resistance Obama faces from such powerful leaders as Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus, Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad, House Ways and Means Chair Charles Rangel, House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman and House Budget Committee Chair John Spratt, Jr.
At the top of the list for the opposing chairs is Obama’s proposal to limit tax deductions for the richest 1.2 percent of taxpayers, which the president said would produce $318 billion over the next 10 years and be a down payment on the health care problem. No way, said Congressman Rangel. His objection is based on a potential reduction in tax-deductible gifts to charities. Sen. Baucus of Montana agreed with Rangel.
Sen. Conrad of North Dakota balked at on the proposal to cut government subsidies to major farmers and agribusinesses. He believes that Obama’s 10-year plan is not enough to reduce future debt. On the other hand, Rep. Spratt of South Carolina felt Obama’s proposals fall far short of what’s needed to improve Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
And any proposal to cap industry’s emission of gases blamed for climate change will meet opposition from Democrats from coal and manufacturing states, vowed Sen. Waxman of California. Obama faces an uphill battle on these issues, but the leaders are optimistic that things will work out in the end. “Not every problem is a deal breaker,” Spratt told the press. “We will try and make corrections and accommodations.”
The process is like “a giant jigsaw puzzle,” Rangel said. “But it is going to come together.”