- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro ‘marriage’
- Sebelius calls for review of Obamacare rollout woes
- American dream dying, but many see free market as solution: Poll
- Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
Retreating lawmakers leave long ‘to do’ list
Democrats met most of goals
Congressional Democrats decamped from Washington this week for the campaign trail, saying they’ve checked off most of the boxes on their legislative wish list: health care, the stimulus package and new rules of the road for Wall Street.
The prison at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is still open. Immigration reform has stalled. The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy remains in place. “Cap-and-trade” energy legislation died in the Senate. The fate of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts remains in limbo. And lawmakers left town without passing a budget or a dozen required spending bills for the federal fiscal year that starts Friday.
With the window closing on this year’s legislative action and polls suggesting Democrats could lose majorities in both chambers of Congress, Mr. Obama has found himself fielding tough questions on the campaign trail from disappointed liberals who fear Democrats have squandered their chances and from unhappy conservative and independent voters who say they already have gone too far.
“Sometimes people say, well, you know, this item is not done and that idea - well, I’ve only been here two years, guys,” Mr. Obama told an audience of more than 20,000 gathered for a rally in Madison, Wis., on Tuesday. “If you look at the checklist, we’ve already covered about 70 percent, so I figured I needed to have something to do for the next couple of years.”
Mr. Obama insisted he remained upbeat, saying that the Democrat-controlled Congress passed 16 tax cuts for small businesses, enacted student loan reform, followed through on his vow to end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq and enacted a health care law that dramatically expands coverage for lower-income Americans.
Given sky-high liberal hopes after Mr. Obama’s 2008 election, it may have been impossible to meet all the expectations. Still, some key goals, including energy legislation, immigration and new rules that would make it easier for labor unions to form, were all left unfinished - and in some cases unstarted.
“Obviously, we were very hopeful when Obama was elected. The Latino vote had swung so dramatically in his favor, and Democrats had such a large majority,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a group that advocates for immigration reform.
“But we have all watched what has happened. The economy did not improve. Health care took 14, 15 months and took most of the political capital, and immigration reform, which was always on the bubble, did not make the cut,” Mr. Sharry said.
Despite falling short on Mr. Obama’s promise to shutter the facility at Guantanamo by January this year, Congress and the administration deserve credit for reducing the number of detainees from 240 to 174 and putting an end to the use of so-called “enhanced-interrogation” techniques instituted under Mr. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, officials at the American Civil Liberties Union said.
“They outlawed torture, they closed secret prisons, and they ended the practice of rendition,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s legislative office in Washington. “They’ve also stated early and often their preference for using federal courts to try the 9/11 detainees.
“So, I think they need to be given credit for a lot that they did do, and I do think they bit off a lot.”
Also left on the cutting-room floor were plans to secure voting rights for residents of the District of Columbia, to repeal the policy that bars gays from openly serving in the military and to enact “card-check” legislation, a top priority of organized labor that would make it easier to form union chapters.
Despite their successes, Democrats have seen poll after poll that suggests their top accomplishments are not earning a lot of gratitude from voters overwhelmingly focused on the weak economy and rising federal red ink.
As a result, they’ve switched gears in recent months with an updated to-do list heavily influenced by the country’s 9.6 percent unemployment rate, a $13.4 trillion national debt and the loss of domestic jobs to overseas competitors.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Club for Growth: Budget deal could hurt GOP incumbents on Election Day
- Obama's IRS nominee John Koskinen vows to restore public trust in agency
- Senate confirms Obama judge following filibuster rule change
- Sen. Rand Paul: 'I am seriously thinking about' running for president in 2016
- Sen. Rand Paul pushes 'economic freedom zones' for Detroit
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgement in Heller II
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
News and views on the Civil War.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow