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Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Topic - Jim Manley
Even as President Obama is praising congressional Democrats for their unity on raising the nation's debt ceiling, he is encountering the election-year limits of party discipline on a wide range of his other priorities.
Long before there was a Sen. Ted Cruz filibustering Obamacare on the Senate floor or a Sen. Rand Paul demanding answers on government drone policy, Sen. Jeff Sessions was holding the Senate floor for hours on end, espousing classic tea party stances against higher spending and expanding presidential powers.
As growing numbers of voters and even some top Republicans in Congress express unhappiness with the tea party after a government shutdown and criticism of the budget deal, progressive liberals like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are trying to fill a space in the political debate by pushing issues such as income inequality and increasing minimum wage.
The Democratic rift over entitlements deepened this week as a top party contender for governor in Pennsylvania came under fire from liberals after a think tank of which she is co-chairwoman criticized economic-populism messages of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.
Agunfighter always shoots at the man he fears most. So the guns of the left have been aimed at Ted Cruz, the charismatic senator from Texas who's looking at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
While the other top congressional leaders are fading, House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the rise, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Thermometer poll, which shows the California Democrat is gaining popularity as one of the nation's top political figures.
With his job-approval numbers plummeting, President Obama is trying to reclaim the advantage in Washington by convincing the public that congressional Republicans are obsessed with "phony" scandals such as Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service at the expense of economic progress.
Fresh off a bruising immigration bill fight that cost him support among some on the Republican right, Sen. Marco Rubio is refocusing on bread-and-butter issues that play better with the GOP base: defunding President Obama's health law, promoting pro-life policies and attacking the United Nations.
After four years of crippling partisan gridlock, which intensified in 2011 when the GOP took control of the House and the Senate remained in Democratic hands, both parties have finally found areas of common ground in Congress.
Nearly 18 months after she faltered on the snowy fields of Iowa in the GOP presidential primary, Rep. Michele Bachmann is making a return to the headlines this week, sponsoring the bill to repeal President Obama's health care law and giving a forum to tea party groups who say the IRS led politically motivated audits against them.
House Speaker John A. Boehner's new "Senate first" strategy could put red state Democrats — especially those facing potentially tough re-election battles in 2014 — in a tough spot: Reject the White House's liberal second-term agenda and run afoul of party leaders, or back the president and alienate voters back home.
Sen. Scott Brown entered the chamber in 2010 as the tea-party darling who made Republicans relevant in Washington once again, giving them the 41st vote in the Senate that allowed them to filibuster President Obama's agenda.
In the waning days of the election, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is playing up his bipartisan prowess, wooing voters with the notion that he will be the post-partisan leader that President Obama promised but failed to be.
A month into his vice presidential candidacy, it's clear Rep. Paul Ryan has had an impact. What is yet to be determined is whether the Wisconsin Republican's impact helps or hurts the Romney ticket on Election Day.
For three days in Charlotte, a parade of prominent Democrats — including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and President Obama himself — will try to rev up the base with live speeches. But one voice that dominated party politics for decades will be notably absent: the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
While Democrats have held together on other big issues, "that doesn't mean that there aren't going to be some situations where certain Democrats are going to go out of their way to distance themselves from the White House," said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.
"On fast track, if the president wants to push for it, he's going to have to fight for it because there's a lot of folks in the House and Senate with pretty serious concerns," he said.