Obama will negate much of the embargo against Cuba on his own

Congressional Republicans have been arguing of late that President Obama has precious little authority of his own on most issues of governance — immigration, for example. Most GOP lawmakers theorize that there isn’t much the president can do without explicit directions from Congress. And now that argument likely will be put to another test with regard to changing relations between the United States and Cuba. HERE‘s the situation: President Obama will move as soon as next month to defang the 54-year-old American trade embargo against Cuba, administration officials said Thursday, using broad executive power to defy critics in Congress and lift restrictions on travel, commerce and financial activities. The moves are only the beginning of what White House officials and foreign policy experts describe as a sweeping set of changes that Mr. Obama can make on his own to re-establish commercial and diplomatic ties with Cuba even in the face of angry congressional opposition....

read more

Congress can’t solve the immigration crisis — and can’t stop Obama from trying to solve it

Ezra Klein, one of  our better political pundits, ARGUES that  “presidential overreach is party a response to congressional dysfunction”: Just as Congress is too divided to do anything; it’s also too divided to stop the other parts of government from doing something. Congress can’t pass a law solving the immigration crisis but it also can’t pass a law stopping Obama from trying to solve it. It can’t pass a law regulating carbon emissions but it also can’t pass a law stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions… A point made by skeptics of Obama’s executive actions is that inaction is a congressional choice that needs to be respected. But if Congress is making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to do something, it’s also making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to stop another branch of government from doing something. Inaction cuts both ways as an expression of congressional will… The less Congress is able to do, the more that other power centers in the government will feel they need to do. The system will survive congressional inaction, but it will survive it in part by leaping into the antidemocratic dark....

read more

Poll: Approval of Congress hits new low, but it’s worse for Republicans than Democrats

As things stand now, the consensus among the political cognoscenti is that Republicans likely will make at least a few gains in this year’s mid-term elections. But THIS suggests to me that Democrats might hold their own if they play their cards right: The number of Americans who approve of their own representative in Congress has reached an all-time low, according to a poll released Tuesday. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 51 percent of Americans said that they disapprove of the way their member of Congress is “handling his or her job.” Forty-one percent approve of how their member handles his or her work, the lowest approval rating that The Washington Post and ABC News has found. This is the first time in 25 years that the number of Americans who disapprove of their own Congress member has risen over 50 percent, according to the Post. Still, Democrats are seeing more favorable ratings than Republicans. Of those polled, 49 percent said that they have a “favorable impression of the Democratic Party,” while only 35 percent answered the same for the...

read more

Obama’s disdain for obstructionist Republicans in Congress reaches boiling point

President Obama’s favorability ratings among Americans in general are nothing to write home about, but they’re not nearly as bad as those for Congress, where obstructionist Republicans hold sway. And now Obama suddenly seems willing to get snarky in his public expressions of  impatience with the GOPers on the Hill, as we see HERE: From the Rose Garden to the Cabinet Room to near the Key Bridge in Georgetown, the president has signaled more than mere annoyance at the state of affairs at the halfway point of this year. His disdain for congressional Republicans has steadily increased; his disrespect for their tactics has hardened into contempt. With immigration reform dead for this year, if not for the remainder of Obama’s presidency; with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) threatening to sue him for alleged misuse of presidential power; and with other important legislation stalled in the House, the president has given voice to his frustrations with a series of partisan blasts. It culminated Tuesday with a mock dare to the speaker and his followers in the House: “So sue...

read more

Why won’t the cowardly Republicans allow an up-or-down vote on the minimum wage?

This isn’t the way democracy is supposed to work. No matter how you may feel about whether an increase in the federal minimum wage is a good idea or not, one overriding fact pertains: Republican leaders in the House of Representatives refuse to allow a vote on the matter. Why? The answer is obvious: They’re afraid it will pass. In fact, Republicans in both houses of Congress are afraid of almost every bill that comes down the pike. Consequently, their only course of action is obstruction. If a bill the Republicans don’t like comes up in the Senate, they impose a filibuster, which requires 60 votes, rather than a simply majority of 50, to overcome. If a bill the Republicans don’t like is proposed in the House, their  leaders refuse to allow an up-or-down vote — for fear that a few GOP members will vote with the Democrats and pass the measure. The Founding Fathers didn’t intend for the system to work this way. But, of course, Americans get the kind of congressional representation they deserve. They could overthrow this system of obstructionism, but they’re too damn dumb to do so. They’re too distracted by the nonsense that’s fed to them by...

read more